The John Obi Mikel Conundrum
He came, he conquered, and he basically won everything that there is to be won in world football; he’s a rare breed in modern football, there are few who can be as loyal as he’s been albeit playing little. One name, which basically springs to mind when you mention the word loyalty, is the much-admired Paulo Ferreira. Mikel should be breathed in the same way as Paulo; they’ve both shown us that a team winning is more important than any personnel (at least where Chelsea is concerned). After more than ten years at Chelsea, it seems like the end is near for the Nigerian. But what is it that is making him incompatible in this team?
Well, first of all, Mikel has been used sparingly by almost every manager who’s been through the revolving managerial door at Chelsea. And on most occasions, we’ve felt like the Nigerian’s time is over, but only to be surprised with an extended stay in the starting eleven and that’s being the story of him surviving the chop. We heard through the grapevine that he was going to sign a new contract and be deployed in a more attacking role (10), but I laughed off that rumor because Conte’s teams have never really played with a number ten. His philosophy or base of his football ideas is central midfield if you’ve noticed.
Since he last played a Premier League match, Chelsea and Conte have altered the formation two or three times. In all instances you’d find a strong case that he doesn’t symbolize a midfielder Conte craves for; his (Conte’s) midfield is all based on industry and Mikel is a sort of calmer when you are already winning or thinking a point is enough. As we’ve seen in Chelsea games this season, there is never a button to relent; you have to attack till the end. The emergence of Chalobah hasn’t helped either. Not only does he provide calm, the former often gave/gives to Chelsea but he also has that aggression in him and you’d bet it makes him sit well with the Italian’s tactics. Football has evolved often and now pressing football is in vogue. Liverpool, Spurs, City and us are spearheading this energy demanding football and this is enemy number one for Mikel. He doesn’t have the energy to frequently surge forward and charge down with ease.
If he goes, it’ll be respectful if it’s in summer on a free rather than fetch any transfer fee so that we won’t hold any influence on his next move, just like we’ve done with our heroes. The end is nearly here for the Nigerian and as one of last breed of that incredible night in Munich. let’s gives him the respect he deserves in his ‘last days’.
Davies Lukonde Jr., @LUKONDE_JR