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John Obi Mikel - A player destroyed by Jose Mourinho in his quest for perfection?

John Obi Mikel - The perfect case of a midfielder whose career has been played around differently by different managers, leaving him in a very tough spot. Did Jose Mourinho destroy his career by making him a defensive midfielder?

John Obi Mikel
Mikel next to Messi at the 2005 FIFA Youth World Cup (featured image from standard.co.uk)

John Obi Mikel, a defensive midfielder at Chelsea has struggled to hold down a spot in the starting 11, as the brilliant Cesc Fabregas and the brick wall Nemanja Matic have their anchors firmly in place as the two holding midfielders of this exuberant Chelsea team.

No one would have imagined this situation back in 2005 when the young 17-year old John Obi Mikel starred for Nigeria as they reached the finals of the FIFA Youth World Cup, only to lose to an Argentina team consisting players such as Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Ezequiel Garay and Lionel Messi.

So what happened to the brilliant John Obi Mikel?

After the 2005 Youth World Cup, Mikel went on to sign for Chelsea in June 2006 for a fee worth £20 million. The young Nigerian was an attacking midfielder with excellent vision paired with great passing skills and the ability to take on defenders. Everyone expected Mikel to be the future successor to Frank Lampard. Everyone except one man, the man who signed him, Jose Mourinho.

Claude Makelele
Mikel was thought to be the ideal replacement for Claude Makelele

Mourinho had different ideas about Mikel. He wanted him to take after the legendary Claude Makelele in the defensive role invented by the man himself. Obi Mikel, a talented attacking midfielder was to be reshaped into a solid, disciplined defensive midfielder who defends the back-line and starts attacks from deep within midfield. Mikel’s discipline made Mourinho consider him to be a suitable candidate.

However his lack of pace and dynamism made him prone to conceding unnecessary fouls against pacey and agile forwards. As time went by, ‘The Special One’ started to realise that Makelele was irreplaceable.

Shortly after, Mourinho left Chelsea and Mikel was left unfinished. The Nigerian international was neither an attacking midfielder nor a defensive midfielder. Years have now passed, and Mikel has never considered good enough by the manager who came in. He had to be content playing a bit-part role.

After nine years and 332 appearances, even after cameo roles in Chelsea’s trophy hauls, Mikel is still unappreciated by the fans and unable to break into the Chelsea team.

Is John Obi Mikel wasting his career at Chelsea?

It’s about time for him to leave Chelsea in order to revive his footballing career and show his true ability. He needs to show the world again what he can do. He gave a glimpse of his immense talent when he lead Nigeria in the 2013 African Cup Of Nations as they beat Ivory Coast and won the competition.

So can John Obi Mikel prove that he is the talent everyone said he is bound to become nine years ago or will he just be another footballing talent who goes waste?

This article has been contributed by a member of the SK Featured Bloggers Club. It was originally published on the ‘Crazy About EPL’ blog here: John Obi Mikel: Destroyed by Jose Mourinho?

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