The Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has attempted to save his career with the Premiership champions by apologising to the club's manager, Jose Mourinho, for his behaviour.
The 19-year-old, who cost Chelsea £16m in the summer, met with Mourinho at the club's training ground earlier this week to discuss his poor attitude in training and his appalling time-keeping, which has led to several fines and his exclusion from the first-team squad. Also at the meeting was Mikel's agent, John Shittu, who assured Mourinho there would be no repeat of the incidents which have led Chelsea to question the player's future.
Mourinho, despite being a huge admirer of Mikel's talent and physical power, believing he could go on to be one of the best players in the world, is concerned about the chaotic nature of his private life. The Nigerian has a large entourage of friends and has, until recently, lived in the Chelsea Village Hotel in west London, although he has recently moved into a house.
The chaos is best illustrated by the incident in May last year when Shittu smuggled Mikel in secret from Oslo to London. That was at the height of the dispute between Chelsea and Manchester United for the player - with the latter believing they had a pre-contract agreement with Mikel, who later claimed he was pressured into signing it, and really wanted to join Chelsea. An agreement was eventually struck which saw Chelsea pay United £12m for withdrawing their interest, and £4m to Mikel's Norwegian club, Lyn Oslo.
Mikel eventually made his Premiership debut for Chelsea at Reading on 14 October, but was sent off for two yellow card offences and has not figured since. It was in that eventful match that injuries were sustained by the Chelsea goalkeepers Petr Cech - who is not expected to play again this season after suffering a fractured skull - and Carlo Cudicini. Thames Valley Police yesterday confirmed that they were investigating death threats that have been made against the Reading players involved.
Threatening letters have been sent to Stephen Hunt and Ibrahima Sonko at the club's Arborfield training ground. "The club is helping us with our inquiry and the matter is being investigated," a police spokesman said.
Initially, the Reading players treated the letters as a joke - pinning the first on the dressing-room door - but subsequent letters have heightened concerns.
* John Terry claims referee Graham Poll swore at him during Chelsea's 2-1 defeat at Spurs, where the Chelsea captain was sent off a fortnight ago. Terry's allegation has been reported to the FA which is investigating Poll's display. The FA asked Terry for his comments after his claim that Poll gave two different explanations for the red card.Reuse content