Zaza a pricey hur­dle for Va­len­cia sign­ing Mikel

The Star Early Edition - - SOCCER -

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.

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