Zaza a pricey hurdle for Valencia signing Mikel
CHELSEA midfielder Jon Obi Mikel, pictured, has agreed a deal in principle to join Valencia, ending a 10-year spell in west London, but his La Liga move hinges on the future of West Ham striker Simone Zaza.
The Nigerian international, who boasts 78 caps with the Super Eagles, has found himself frozen out by new Blues boss Antonio Conte as leagueleading Chelsea evolved their style under the Italian coach.
And after failing to make a single Premier League appearance this season, Mikel has agreed the outline details of a move to Mestalla after meeting Valencia’s sporting director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch, in London.
But the crisis-hit Spaniards must now make a big decision as Financial Fair Play restrictions mean they won’t be able to afford both Mikel and top target Zaza.
Italian international Zaza has been a flop with West Ham since arriving on loan from Juventus in the off-season, and was all set to move to Valencia this month at the request of head coach Cesare Prandelli.
But, after the former Italy boss quit this week after issuing an ultimatum over five new January signings he coveted, the Zaza deal is now on ice as club owner Peter Lim and sporting director Pitarch decide on where to focus their resources. Mikel, meanwhile, is also being chased by Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille and clubs from the Chinese Super League, but is understood to prefer a La Liga move.
The 29-year-old joined Chelsea in 2006 in a protracted and controversial transfer, having initially signed a deal with Manchester United. Meanwhile, the DPA reports that Schalke forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has retired from Cameroon’s national team and will not play at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Schalke said Choupo-Moting, 27, would instead be part of the club’s winter break training camp in Benidorm, Spain.
Not present at the camp are the still injured Coke and Franco di Santo, while Algeria’s Nabil Bentaleb and Ghana’s Rahman Baba will be in Gabon.
In addition, Bernard Tekpetey is part of Ghana’s provisional squad.