5 Premier League clubs ready to battle for John Mikel Obi?
Background photo: Chemical Engineer
John Mikel Obi is once again a free agent. It’s his third time on the open market. The first opportunity lured him away from England. Far away. The second welcomed him back. Will the third return him to the Premier League? That's his hope.
"I think I will prefer to stay in England and continue my education in football. My family is here and it is a country that I have lived for more than ten years, so preferably I will play in England next season hopefully in the EPL."
Mikel’s situation is being closely monitored by a handful of top English clubs. His six-month stint in the Championship with Middlesbrough proved that his quality and fitness remain. On certain occasions, Boro fans were heard chanting his name. The Nigerian was even named skipper shortly after his Riverside arrival. Unfortunately for Boro, they couldn’t ride on their Rolls Royce midfielder to a promotion playoff berth.
Having lost out on one opportunity to return to England's elite division, the player will seek another. Boro knows they’ll lose Mikel to a Premier League club. The 32-year-old has shown he’s too good for the Championship.
Mid-table teams in the top-tier will be falling over themselves to claim Mikel’s signature. Let’s look at the most likely.
The Canaries are a pretty solid team, good enough to win the 2018/19 Championship campaign. However, Daniel Farke needs to strengthen his side before the baptism of fire in the Premier League begins.
If there’s any department that requires attention, it’s the midfield. Norwich appeared a little flat-footed in midfield this season. The defence wasn't entirely to blame for the 57 goals shipped.
Norwich funds to buy any midfielder. Okay, not Paul Pogba. Be reasonable. Proceeds from James Maddison's sale remain largely untouched. Add the purse that comes with their title and the initial share of Premier League TV revenue and the club has a decent war chest. Mikel won't break their bank and will deliver good value. Rumours say they're interested.
The Seagulls escaped relegation by a hair's breadth and sacked Chris Hughton for mustering only three wins in his last 23 matches. Brighton must improve drastically to earn a fourth season in the top flight.
To start, a manager is required. When signed, that man needs to strengthen the squad.
Towards the end, Albion’s deep-lying midfield became as feeble as a League One debutant. Rather than quick fixes in flashier positions, the South Coast side should first sign a player with character, panache and a winning mentality. Mikel simply needs a jersey and a pair of boots.
The Blades haven’t come anywhere near the Premier League in 12 years. If they’re to maintain their new status longer than 10 months, they must beef up their squad. Chris Wilder is a man who craves solidity in the middle of the pack. Which is why rumours linking United to Mikel seem sensible.
When Sheffield faced Boro at Bramall Lane in February, Mikel shopped his wares It’s easy to see why Wilder is all out to get the Olympic bronze medalist.
The Hornets did not finish this League campaign in the position they hoped. Six games to the end, they were well in the running to finish seventh and earn a Europa League ticket. A bewildering run of four defeats and a draw dropped them into the bottom half.
Although Javi Gracia’s side showed brilliance during the season, especially in reaching the FA Cup final, they must take the past few games as a sign of things to come. If Watford doesn’t head to the market improve their team, they could find themselves struggling to beat the drop.
It’s almost certain they’ll lose Abdoulaye Doucouré this summer. Mikel can be an insurance policy.
Roy Hodgson and Palace toyed with the idea of bringing Mikel to Selhurst Park during the winter but were persuaded otherwise given the Super Eagles captain's lack of action for nearly three months. The season's second half taught Palace they shouldn't pass on the chance again.
Mikel would be perfect in Hodgson's midfield. The former Chelsea midfielder possesses a winning mentality unmatched in the current squad.
Spoiled for choice
The bottom line is John Mikel Obi will be headed for one of these Premier League clubs this summer. The one who gets him will benefit.