Friday, June 13, 2014 7:38 am
The transfer window is yet to officially open but London club Chelsea have already completed the signing of Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas while a deal with Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is imminent.
Fabregas sealed a five-year deal worth about €33m with Chelsea after he became an unwanted figure at Barcelona, despite ending his third year at the Catalan club with the most assists for them last season.
Alongside the tireless Nemanja Matic and Ramires in a midfield also comprising Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and John Mikel Obi among others, Fabregas’ arrival at Stamford Bridge makes a statement of intent for Chelsea well ahead of the 2014/15 season.
With David Luiz set to leave for Paris St. Germain and Frank Lampard released by the club at the end of last season, Fabregas’ arrival could spell the end of Mikel Obi’s time at Stamford Bridge.
Already playing a bit-part role at the club last season behind Ramires, Lampard, David Luiz and then Matic who arrived in January, Mikel’s place at Chelsea becomes more uncertain with Mourinho clearly on a mission to get Chelsea back to winning titles after ending last season without one.
The departures of Luiz and Lampard in the close season would probably have seen Mikel Obi get more game time alongside Matic who seems to be Mourinho’s first choice central midfielder now.
What Fabregas’ arrival would however likely see Mikel drop back to fourth in the pecking order of central midfielders, behind the Spaniard and Matic, then Ramires who has been deployed in the position a number of times ahead of Mikel.
Mikel’s numbers do not help his cause much either. While indeed he is a defensive midfielder whose tackling, interceptions and pass completion stats are just above average, Matic and Ramires can match those numbers.
Where Mikel loses out on the duo is in the attacking attributes which sees Ramires and Matic pose a far greater threat to the opposition than Mikel who has only a handful of league goals and assists in the last two seasons.
Then putting Mikel alongside an assist king in Fabregas known for high rates in pass completion and fair number of tackles and interceptions only emphasises the point further.
And with Dutch starlet Marco van Ginkel back from a season long injury picked up weeks after signing for Chelsea at the start of last season, Mikel’s position at Chelsea borders on dire for the player and by extension the Nigerian national team that he currently is with at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
It is a stoop for Mikel’s career, which was once at par with Lionel Messi’s in 2005, and after being a mainstay for the Blues following his controversial switch from Lyn Oslo in 2006, it may well be time to leave the comfort zone of Stamford Bridge and reinvent himself elsewhere.
Inter Milan and AS Monaco are reportedly thought to be considering the 27 year old Nigerian and if an exit door from Chelsea to guaranteed football opens, it would be the best if Mikel walked through that door.