With Jose Mourinho potentially scheming a remarkable offensive on the top four this month, the Portuguese tactician needs to look towards shifting the club’s dead wood in January. John Obi Mikel proves the most blatant example of a player facing departure.
Although only 28, Mikel seems jaded and already past his prime. The fact the Nigerian remains in the Chelsea squad is nothing short of miraculous, with a number of Blues supporters shocked at the decision not to sell the midfielder over the summer.
In fact, Mikel’s departure has been on the cards for a number of years with his game time declining season by season. Considering how little skill he brings to the table, why Chelsea haven’t gone to greater lengths to shoo him from Stamford Bridge is a mystery.
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On his day, the Nigerian can prove an extremely useful defensive blockade and this often compliments Mourinho’s ‘park the bus’ approach. However, with Chelsea choking in 14th place, the last thing the club needs is a player with such a negative impetus.
Chelsea need goals and wins to drag themselves out of their slump, not a groggy defensive midfielder with just one league goal for the club in 229 appearances.
The simple solution to Chelsea’s woes is extensive change and flushing out the weaker players at Stamford Bridge would be a prominent step in the right direction.
Mikel is simply holding a space in the club’s squad that could easily be given to another player with more positivity. Admittedly, the Nigerian can culpably maintain possession and slip in a vital tackle, but the 28-year-old is far from a match winner.
Furthermore, even in the games Mikel has played this season - of which there have been few - he has proven absent and fragile in Chelsea’s midfield.
The Nigerian was left in tatters on his own pitch after the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool; the Reds’ midfield saw Mikel subjected to a brutal 70 minutes. His eventual substitution was met by supporter delight as Mourinho’s gamble on him had backfired in spectacular fashion.
Another one of the midfielder’s sporadic cameos came at the Estadio do Dragao in the Champions League, but once again Mikel proved a spectator. In amongst the pace of European football, his capitulation was embarrassing viewing as he simply could not keep up with the game.
The fact that Mourinho was pressured to sell Mikel when Chelsea were running away with the league shows that, with the Blues now lingering in mid-table, the move has become a necessity.
There seems no logical reason for Mikel to be maintained at a club with such prestige; his current form does not warrant a place at the home of the Premier League champions.
Mikel is an accomplished defensive midfielder and a resounding asset when on-form, but with Chelsea in such a ravaged state, the last problem they want is dead wood lingering in the squad.
All logic points towards the Nigerian being sold in January and with Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the rise, Mourinho should cash-in on his calamitous midfielder whilst he still has worth.