Nigeria international John Obi Mikel has stated he is being punished by Antonio Conte for his decision to play in the Olympics.
The 29-year-old midfielder has not started a game for Chelsea this season since the Olympics, where he won bronze and he insists he will not swap the medal for a spot on the team.
Gernot Rohr, Super Eagles technical adviser claims Conte has frozen the Super Eajgles captain out of the squad due to his decision to opt for the Olympics instead of playing in the preseason.
Mikel is adamant he would not trade that experience for a chance to get back into the Chelsea side, but he feels that such a stance has made him something of a pariah to his manager.
“I have never been a guy who makes excuses in life and never shy away from responsibilities,” the former Lyn man, who scored in Nigeria’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Algeria on Saturday, told The Sun.
“Yes, maybe people will say the new manager was upset I left and went to the Olympics, that I didn’t have a pre-season with the team. He probably thinks I don’t care about the team, things like that.
“But I don’t want to use those excuses. I have to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager’s mind. If not, then we’ll see what happens in January.
“But, no, I would never swap my Olympic medal for a place back in the Chelsea team. One thing you have to do in life as a man is that when you make a decision, or a sacrifice, you have to deal with it.
“I have not one single regret in going to the Olympics. And I will not trade my medal for anything.”