Belfast Telegraph

Out of favour Mikel on verge of Chelsea exit with duo closing in

By Ed Malyon

Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel 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 has found himself frozen out by new Blues boss Antonio Conte and, after failing to make a single Premier League appearance this season, Mikel has agreed the outline details of a move to the Mestalla after meeting with Valencia's sporting director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch, in London.

However, the crisis-hit Spaniards must now make a big decision as Financial Fair Play restrictions mean they won't be able to afford to sign both Mikel and top target Zaza this month.

Mikel, meanwhile, is also being chased by Ligue 1 side Marseille and clubs from the Chinese Super League but is understood to prefer a La Liga move.

Italian international Zaza has been a complete flop with West Ham since arriving on loan from Juventus in the summer, 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 that 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.

Chelsea will look to keep up their recent tremendous run when they travel to face Tottenham tomorrow night and Kieran Trippier admits ousting Kyle Walker from the Spurs first team will be a formidable task even after his outstanding display against Watford.

The excellent form of Walker and Danny Rose has limited Trippier and stand-in left-back Ben Davies to a combined four league starts this term.

"If you see the performances that Danny and Kyle have been putting in this season, and last season, and in the Euros, it's difficult week in and week out against them because they're both flying," Trippier said.

"I've had to wait and that's because Walks has been doing really well. That's why in training I keep myself match-fit and whenever you're called upon you need to be ready.

"It was important I took my chance because I've not played for a couple of weeks.

"I thought it was important that I did well for the team and tried to set up a few or just did my best. I thought I helped and it was a good three points."

Rose said: "I feel for Kieran. He is probably one of the nicest people I've come across and for him to get his chance, it's great that he's taken it."

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