Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has moved to provide clarity on the contract situations surrounding John Obi Mikel and James Chester during an interview with the Stoke Sentinel, with both players possessing deals which expire at the end of the season.
Both players have been crucial for the Potters this term, racking up over 20 league appearance as the club continues to hold aspirations of making the play-offs come the end of the campaign.
The duo are into their early thirties and currently have just a few months remaining on their current deals, raising expected questions over whether they will be at the Bet365 Stadium beyond June.
However O’Neill has moved to allay any fears that the players could be departing for pastures new by providing the following update on the situation:
“Both signed contracts with options so we anticipate that both players will be here next year..
“They are players who came here and their motive was to play, it wasn’t financial. That is heartening in this day and age.
“They weren’t older players who saw this as an opportunity for a last pay day, they saw it as an opportunity to really come to a club and make a difference.”
In the meantime Stoke will be looking to extend their winning run next weekend as they travel to the Riverside Stadium to take on their fellow play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Many people will be pleased to hear these comments from the manager as it shows that the Potters are keen to hold onto two of the more experienced members of the current squad.
Obi Mikel and Chester boast CVs that have spanned not only the Championship but also the Premier League and as a result their knowhow of both this division and the one above could aid the club’s play-off push in the last remaining months of the campaign.
If worse comes to worse and the club remains in the Championship for another season, at least supporters can be satisfied by the fact that O’Neill is planning with the future in mind already.
Finally it appears some order is returning to the club that has experienced some turbulent periods since suffering relegation back in 2018.