John Obi Mikel has said he is making plans for life after Chelsea as time ticks down on the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge.
Mikel, who has made more than 350 appearances in all competitions since joining Chelsea from Lyn Oslo in June 2006, told Goal he will talk to interested clubs in January if he is not offered an extension.
The Nigeria international is the club’s longest-serving player behind John Terry and has won every major club trophy at Stamford Bridge.
But he has only infrequently been a regular starter at Chelsea, regaining a level of prominence under interim manager Guus Hiddink last season before falling back down the pecking order following the arrivals of new coach Antonio Conteand N’Golo Kante.
“I have one year left (on my contract),” Mikel said. “When you have a year left as a football player, you have to start planning and start thinking about what’s going to happen at the end of the season.
“Yes, there are going to be rumours, yes, there are going to be conversations between clubs. I will talk to other clubs because you never know what is going to happen.
“I’ve been here for a long, long time. I’ve spent 11 years of my life in this football club, it is my home.
“This season is the last at the club if my contract ends. I am quite relaxed about it, the future looks good.”
One source of hope for Mikel is that Chelsea have traditionally left it later than most clubs to open contract talks with some of their more experienced players.
Last season, Branislav Ivanovic signed his one-year extension in January, while Terry put pen to paper on a new deal in May after a lengthy public stand-off.
“I am always open to a new conversation, a negotiation (with Chelsea),” Mikel added. “But if there’s none, the future still looks bright. One day you have to move on.
“I think my memories here, my achievements here, are something that no one will ever take away from me. Those memories will never go away.”