John Mikel Obi has been a key player in Trabzonspor’s rise to the top of the Turkish league.
Former Nigeria captain and ex-Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi has left Trabzonspor by mutual consent, days after expressing his concerns about the Turkish Super Lig continuing amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
The Super Lig is one of a handful of leagues continuing to fulfil games, albeit behind closed doors.
Mikel, 32, posted on social media that he disagreed with that policy.
A club statement released on Tuesday said he had now ended his contract.
It said he had given up his wages in order to become a free agent.
On Saturday, Obi had written on his Instagram “there is more to life than football” and added: “I do not feel comfortable and do not want to play football in this situation.
“Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times.”
The post, which was made a day before Trabzonspor’s game against Istanbul Basaksehir, received positive responses from two fellow Turkey-based former Chelsea players.
Galatasaray forward Radamel Falcao replied “you are right John”, while Didier Drogba said they were “words of wisdom”.
The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey stood at six at the time of Mikel’s post, though it has now leapt to 47.
The government has ramped up measures to halt its spread, closing schools and universities, holding sports events without spectators and halting flights to many countries.
Meanwhile, players from Galatasaray’s basketball team released a joint statement urging the Turkish Basketball Super League to suspend games.
“We appreciate the Turkish government has taken measures to slow down the spread of the virus however we find it quite bizarre that we keep playing, despite it being behind closed doors,” they said.
“We have seen how hesitation to take extreme action has provoked a spike in cases in neighbouring countries and we believe now is the time to take extreme action.”