John Obi Mikel’s time at Chelsea looks to be finally coming to an end. After a Champions League, Europa League, two Premier Leagues, four FA Cups and two League Cups, he has been linked with a move to the UAE. The much-maligned Mikel is still worth far more than disappearing into the career graveyard of the Middle East and sides around Europe should be jumping at the chance to sign the Nigerian.
Mikel’s future should not be thought of as being a reject or sub-standard, as he is neither. Chelsea would surely opt keep hold of the midfielder if not for the current set of circumstances, and his lack of game time is down to not being as good as Nemanja Matic rather than anything else – hardly meaning he is short of class.
Matic, being possibly the best defensive-midfielder in the world, is going to stand in the way of whoever is challenging for his position at Stamford Bridge. The presence of the Serbian has, understandably, made Mikel look elsewhere in a search for regular first-team action.
Mikel’s quality is deserving of at least top 10 football at the very least, and clubs in Europe of such ambition should be looking at the Chelsea man. His experience at the very top of European football and pressure situations in the biggest English games will leave him in good stead for whatever the next step in his career may be. Mikel has also demonstrated his ability to take over as a more senior figure in his national side – his performances in leading Nigeria to the African Cup of Nations showed a more expansive side to his game that many were unaware he had.
As we saw a new side to Mikel, he unfortunately never quite replicated this in the strict regime of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Luckily, the video below gives another chance to see Mikel’s flash side.
The lower price of Mikel gives a better value option compared to many defensive midfielders currently around. While the Nigerian comes across as limited to some, his experience cannot be overlooked with several sides looking a tad lightweight in midfield ahead of the new season.
Having just turned 28, Mikel is likely to have not yet peaked for a player in his position. His ability to read the game is consistently improving and his performance in Chelsea’s Champions League Final win over Bayern Munich is one of the best displays of his career as Chelsea faced a German barrage.
Given the freedom in a more expansive side, Mikel would show his ability to pick a pass and begin to dominate games in midfield, as he does for Nigeria. Always a bit part player at Stamford Bridge, he has the opportunity to seize the next move in his career and fulfil the potential that caused the transfer controversy when he moved to England from Lyn.
As a player never really blessed with pace, age is unlikely to be of detriment to Mikel. He will bring with him a good record regarding injuries and could be one of the signings of the summer.