Mikel to leave Chelsea for CSL's Tianjin Teda
John Obi Mikel has confirmed he is signing for Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda in a goodbye message to Chelsea supporters.
The Nigeria international has represented the Blues since 2006 and won 11 trophies, including the Champions League in 2012.
Mikel now becomes the latest big name to move to China, joining a Tianjin Teda side who finished 10th in last season's competition.
The 29-year-old thanked Chelsea fans, telling them he was thrilled to be leaving with the club sitting top of the Premier League.
But Mikel explained he has found this season difficult having not played any first-team matches and was delighted to be moving to China "at a time that that the CSL is really taking off".
The midfielder's contract was due to expire at the end of the season.
A letter to my Chelsea family. pic.twitter.com/FhcUyq3iaV
— Mikel John Obi (@mikel_john_obi) January 6, 2017
"After 10 years, 374 appearances and 11 trophies, it is time for me to say goodbye," Mikel wrote on his Twitter account.
"I say goodbye as a champion of England, a champion of Europe, and proud captain of my national team.
"To play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, is every professional player's ambition.
"But to play for Chelsea, to become part of the Chelsea family, to work with some of the best managers and players in the world, has truly been an honour.
"To Mr Abramovich. The club's staff, coaches, physios, and to the managers I played under at Chelsea, I want to say thank you.
"But my biggest thanks must go to the Blues fans. You brought me into the Chelsea family, you sung my name, and were there with us every step of the way.
"As you will know, I haven't featured as much as I would have liked, and at 29 I still have many years in the game ahead of me. With this in mind, I feel now is the time to seek a new challenge.
"I'm delighted to be joining Tianjin Teda in China, at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin Teda continue to grow both on and off the pitch in the next few years.
"To everyone at Chelsea – goodbye, and thank you. You will always be part of who I am, and I wish you the best of luck. I could not be happier to be saying goodbye with the club back where it belongs - top of the league".
The CSL has already sealed deals to sign Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Axel Witsel during the January transfer window.
Those signings add to the likes of Hulk, Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira, all of whom are playing in China after making high-profile moves.
— Nigeria Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) January 6, 2017