John Obi Mikel has thanked Chelsea for giving him permission to go to the Rio Olympics and said Antonio Conte told him to bring back a gold medal.
The Nigerian midfielder is aiming to help the Super Eagles win their second Olympic gold in Brazil, but did say the decision to choose the games over the start of the Premier League season was a difficult one.
‘It is difficult to leave Chelsea at this time,’ Mikel told the Evening Standard.
‘But I explained to the club why I wanted to go and I thank them for their understanding and allowing me to be a part of this.
‘The coach also gave me his blessing. He told me to make sure I do well and bring back the gold medal!
When Mikel returns from Olympic duty, he could find his pathway to the Chelsea first team blocked by new £32m signing N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.
The 29-year-old has not had ample time to impress new boss Conte either, and knows he will have to prove himself when he returns to Stamford Bridge.
‘Obviously, it is hard to be away because I want to impress the new coach.
‘I had one week of pre-season training and you need more than that if you want to prove yourself to a new manager who wants to change everything around.
‘It is a risk that I have taken but I am willing to stand by that. I hope after the Olympics I can go back and prove myself.’

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