John Obi Mikel has admitted that quitting Chelsea at this stage of his career would be difficult.
The 29-year-old has been relegated since he returned from the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, where he won bronze medal with the Nigeria U23 national team.
Mikel revealed he had told the club about his imminent departure since his services are no longer needed at the Stamford Bridge.
“It is difficult to leave Chelsea at this time,” Mikel told the Evening Standard.
“But I explained to the club why I wanted to go and I thank them for their understanding and allowing me to be a part of this.”
The former Lyn Oslo joined the Blues in 2006, and has won one Champions League title, an Europa League title, two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a Community Shield in his ten-year stay at the club.