Chelsea is often bandied about as being old, ageing, beyond their prime, as Sir Alex Ferguson would attest. And it’s hard to argue the point, with a fair slice of our key players over 30, the most notable including Ballack, Drogba and Lampard.
And whilst there are players who are under 25, only a few continue to make the grade week after week. And in my opinon, the most notable of these is John Obi Mikel.
It is not idle fun that Jose Mourinho is chasing the Nigerian. Since arriving at Chelsea from Lyn Oslo at the tender age of 18, he was a Manchester United player. The Reds cried foul that they had signed him, but Chelsea struck back by saying they had signed him. However, Ferguson appeared with Mikel, showing a shirt emblazoned with 21, Mikel.
But then John disappeared at a Norwegian Cup match. He wasn’t playing, he was supposed to be in the stands watching. But he wasn’t. Had he been kidnapped? The media thought so, and Man Utd assistant Carlos Quieroz said that it was Chelsea.
But John was really in London with his agent, “mulling over the deal”. Then he appeared on the news, pointing the finger at United and saying that they had breached the rules.
Mikel was supposed to return to Lyn Oslo, but never did. A feud began to grow between the club and Manchester United. Then Chelsea heroically stepped through the door and offered to sign Mikel. They paid United twelve million euros, and Lyn four million. And finally through all that, Mikel was a Chelsea player.
And boy was it worth it!
Mikel, now 21, is a prominent voice in the side. Whilst not being absolute first choice, for the big games in particular, he can be relied on to make an appearance and perform, as he did when Essien was out for the first half of the season. Under Scolari, Mikel played superbly.
But it hasn’t been all happiness. Mikel does have a temper, having been sent off four times in his Chelsea career. During the early days, punctuality and personal life got in the way of his talent, and after being dropped considerably, his future hanged in balance.
Fortunately, Mikel cleaned up his act and got his career back on track. Stunning holding midfield performances, particulary in the Champions League, earned him plaudits. With the moving of Makelele, Mikel’s place in the team was cemented even more, with his transition to the Makelele role seamless.
In the FourFourTwo Top 100 list this year, Mikel was listed at Number 90. Just another stat that contributes to the talent that he amasses in almost every game. Forget signing young midfielders, Mikel is the future diamond in the crown. Bring Cork and Woods into the fringe, and we may just have a future we can proud of.
He’s just got to become a better shooter…
This and more on the new look and new name Stamford Blues – fomerly the Chelsea Blue.