There is a reason why John Obi Mikel has remained at Chelsea all these years.
A few wrote off his career when Jose Mourinho returned for a second spell and many said he would be sold when Nemanja Matic was re-signed for the club. He may still end up being sold this summer, but he has remained relevant through his Chelsea career.
Maligned for much of his time with Chelsea, Mikel has always been useful to every manager he has worked with in Stamford Bridge. His ability to break up the opposition play and protect the back four is unparalleled. His attacking instincts may be inhibited, but defensively he is one the best around.
Against Barcelona in 2012, Mikel was one of the outstanding performers. One can safely say that without him, Chelsea may have been overrun by Lionel Messi and Co.
It is worthwhile to know that Messi must see Mikel as an antagonist. Both men have a history from the U-19 World Cup in 2005. There is a reason for that.
Against Atletico Madrid, Mourinho turned to the man he signed back in 2006; the man he has underused for much of the season; the man who has been solid all the time.
His yellow card which rules him out of the return leg epitomises his willingness to dig in for the team's sake. He may not be the most liked or most valuable, in fact he may not even be in Chelsea next season but when the big matches come up, Chelsea managers call on Mikel. There is a reason why.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU