Against all the odds, it appears John Obi Mikel may have secured his future at Chelsea after a string of superb performances under Guus Hiddink. The Nigerian has appeared a different player under the management of the Dutchman.
In the twilight weeks of Jose Mourinho’s turbulent second coming, Mikel was practically written off and rumours of a January departure were rife.
However, the resurgent defensive midfielder seems to have dodged the axe by rediscovering his form at just the right moment. Whilst far from a champagne player, Mikel possesses an uncanny knack of stepping up to the plate when the chips are down.
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Under Mourinho’s wing, Mikel had been a useful stalwart in Chelsea’s midfield in games where the Portuguese wanted to grind out a win.
Yet this campaign, ‘The Special One’ neglected the 28-year-old and on the few occasions he did play was often substituted.
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Whilst Mikel offered solidarity and stability, his negative presence contributed to Chelsea’s blunt attack at the start of the campaign. His showings were simply far from a Premier League champions' standard and as a consequence, he was practically annexed from the squad.
Mikel was pummeled with criticism and it was assumed he would be sold.
Since Mourinho’s sacking however, the Nigerian has rediscovered the form that made him a defensive necessity in the past.
With Hiddink at the reins he has appeared a different prospect and is now proving a regular in the Chelsea outfit. His astonishing run of starts is testament to the degree to which he has turned around his season.
Mikel and Hiddink are simply an unstoppable duo; the statistics speak for themselves. Under the Dutchman’s management, Mikel hasn’t lost a single game with Chelsea out of an incredible 24 fixtures.
The 28-year-old is once again flying in with crucial interceptions and tackles, fighting to stay at the club.
Mikel possesses an abundance of doubters but his recent showings are quashing the whispers that he will be sold. He may not be an elegant player with finesse in tandem but he brings stability to a club that needs just that.
Before recently, Chelsea were a club in free fall and Mikel’s recent resurgence has been a key variable in the Blues halting their nose dive.
In just over a month, the Nigerian has moved himself from the transfer list to being recognised as one of the club’s most important players. His showings under Hiddink have simply saved his career at Stamford Bridge.
Should Mikel now be regarded as a key player for Chelsea? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!