When John Mikel Obi burst onto the scene after a wonderful tournament at the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2005 where he was the second best player in the tournament, behind Lionel Messi, his signature was fought by both Chelsea and Manchester United, with the Blues finally winning him over.
He came to the club as a teenager learning his trade, and after playing second fiddle to Claude Makelele, he was the one who earned the manager’s trust in shielding the back four.
Since then, many managers have come and gone and many legends have come and gone, but Mikel Obi has always remained, and he’s been a key player for Chelsea under many managers, bar the short era of Andre Villas-Boas and the second coming of Jose Mourinho.
For the first time in his Chelsea career, he has had to play football only in training, and not deemed good enough to sit on the Chelsea bench. Even at his worst moments in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, he always made the bench and was brought in most times to kill games and add defensive solidity.
Conte has deemed him expendable, and in all honesty, as far as results are going his way, you have to admit the manager is right. Even Cesc Fabregas has been deemed expendable under Conte, and John Terry as well, since the switch to a 3-4-3 system.
Although, for all Mikel has given to the club, I believe he deserves a far better treatment. He has spent over a decade at the club, and was instrumental in our Champions League victory under Roberto Di Matteo. Nigeria’s national team coach Gernot Rohr believes he’s being sidelined for going to the Olympics. “He trains very well with the team but he is being punished for deciding to go to the Olympic Games for Nigeria.” Rohr said.
Even Mikel himself admitted that this is the first time it’s happening to him in his career. “For the first time in my career, this is happening to me and I have to stand up and deal with it.
“I’ve been at Chelsea a long time. Managers come and go, players come and go. I’ve been at Chelsea a long time and these things happen in football. So we will have to make that decision when January comes.” Mikel said.
Indeed every story that has a beginning has an end, and it’s time for Mikel Obi to write another story, but this time with another club.