Antonio Conte plays down contract talks for long serving Chelsea midfielder

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Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel could be on his way out of the club soon after manager Antonio Conte said that talks over a new deal to extend his current deal hadn't taken place, according to

The Nigerian international – who is the club's current second longest serving player behind John Terry – has entered the final 12 months of his deal, and could sign a pre-contract agreement with another team in January.

So far this season, Mikel has failed to break into Conte's plans, and the Italian tactician has revealed that neither he nor the club have opened talks over a new deal to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

Having joined his country at this summer's Olympic Games, the 29-year-old missed Chelsea's pre-season in its entirety and as such has been behind the rest of the group in getting up to speed.

And though his future is by no means decided just yet, Conte did confirm that no talks had taken place yet, and seemed to hint that the midfielder's future was not a priority for him just yet.

When asked whether talks had opened with Mikel, Conte responded: "Now? Have I spoken to him now? No. No. No but, I repeat, now it's important to be focused on the championship in this period," Conte told reporters.

"We are in November. It's important to be focused on the pitch. Then, we can focus other situations in time. It's normal in every squad, there are players who are towards the end of their contract, and they and the club together take a decision on their futures."

"Mikel is working very well now. In the past he's sometimes had some injuries but now he's working very hard and I'm pleased with his work-rate."

Mikel speaks

The player himself has publicly addressed the situation, saying that talks with other clubs are a possibility in January.

"Yes, there are going to be rumours, yes," Mikel admitted. "There are going to be conversations between clubs. When you have a year left, in January, you are allowed to talk to other clubs and sign a pre-contract or have an agreement so, yes, I will talk to other clubs because you never know what is going to happen."

Mikel first joined the club back in 2006 from Norwegian side FK Lyn (now Lyn Fotball) and has gone on to make a total of 372 appearances across all competitions, scoring seven goals.

He has been a part of everything the Blues have won over the past decade, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League in 2012.

However, with the likes of Nemanja Matic, Oscar, Cesc Fabregas, Nathaniel Chalobah and recent signing N'Golo Kante all ahead of him in the pecking order, he may well be better of moving on in search of more regular first team football.

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John Obi Mikel
Premier League
Frank Lampard
John Terry
Francesc Fabregas

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