John Michael "Mikel" Nchekwube Obinna (born 22 April 1987) is a Nigerian international footballer who currently plays for Chelsea F.C.
Following quickly on from the purchase of Salomon Kalou in the summer of 2006, the arrival of John Obi Mikel confirmed Chelsea's determination to add exciting young talent as well as established stars to a squad that had just won back-to-back league titles. Having smoothed out some rough edges both on and off the pitch, manager Jose Mourinho increasingly used Mikel's talent in the holding midfield role, especially when requiring a longer range of passing than other options including the feted Claude Makelele. As a junior Mikel had played more as an attacking midfielder. Named Chelsea Young Player of the Year, he survived an injury scare the week before the 2007 FA Cup Final to play the whole game. Chelsea beat Manchester United in the first final at the new Wembley. The 2007-08 season saw Mikel continue to grow in the 'Makelele' role, and by the end of it he had played more games than the old master of the position. There were hitches. An unfortunate sending off at Old Trafford in Avram Grant's first game was followed by another red card in a Carling Cup semi-final against Everton, his fourth since joining Chelsea. He started the 2008 League Cup Final defeat by Spurs shortly after his return from the Africa Cup of Nations but then spent a spell out of the side before ending his second season with responsibility in some important games, including a home win over Manchester United when he was outstanding, although he remained on the bench for the Champions League Final against the same opposition. Top displays became more commonplace in the 2008-09 season when, with Michael Essien injured for much of the campaign, Mikel became the permanent anchor man - his calm touch a major contribution to the 2009 FA Cup Final win over Everton. One item that has remained lacking from the midfielder's game is goals, much like his former mentor Makelele. Two in his first season, both FA Cup goals in the January of 2007 against lower league opposition, have not been added to since, though as he says, there are plenty of others in the midfield who can contribute goals, allowing him to concentrate on stopping them. Further injury to Essien in the 2009-10 season ensured that for the second season running Mikel was the primary choice as deep-lying midfielder. On his return from the Africa Cup of Nations in February he started every game until his own knee and ankle problems in mid-April ruled him out of the season's two-trophy climax, and the first African World Cup Finals. He did however have his first league championship winners' medal. Mikel's own on-pitch discipline problems are long behind him. He was only booked four times in a Double-winning campaign spent in a highly-competitive area of the pitch. Carlo Ancelotti revealed he was a similar player in a similar position in his youth but was able to use Essien more in the 2010-11 season and Mikel spent a period out the side, due to injury and when a 4-4-2 formation was adopted for a period. Mikel did however pass the 200-game milestone for Chelsea during the season and started all but 10 league games. The Nigerian began the 2011-12 season in Andre Villas-Boas's new-look midfield, starting four of the opening five games, and remained a regular before a thigh injury - sustained against Tottenham Hotspur shortly before Christmas - meant he didn't feature for the Blues for almost two months. In the second half of the season, however, he re-emerged as a regular in midfield, starting six of our nine games in a busy March and impressing under Roberto Di Matteo with a more attacking outlook, playing more forward passes and dominating from his deep position. Arguably one of Mikel's finest games in a Chelsea shirt was the 2012 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. Mikel began the 2012-13 season in a similar vein to the way he finished the previous one, and was rewarded with the offer of a five-year contract, which he signed early in December, tying him to the club until 2017. With only two deep-lying midfield roles available, he alternated with Frank Lampard and Ramires for much of the campaign, before sustaining a hip injury as the season drew to a close. He was an unused substitute in the 2013 Europa League Final against Benfica.
On 21 September 2013, Mikel scored his first ever Premier League goal, and his first goal in over six years in a 2-0 win over Fulham.
- League Cup: 1 (2007)
- FA Cup: 4 (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012)
- Community Shield: 1 (2009)
- Champions League: 1 (2012)
- Europa League: 1 (2013)
- Chelsea Young Player of the Year: 2 (2007, 2008)
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Chelsea F.C. – current squad|
| 1. Caballero • 2. Rudiger • 3. Alonso • 4. Fabregas • 5. Zouma • 6. Rudiger • 7. Kante • 8. Barkley • 9. Morata •|
10. Hazard • 11. Pedro • 13. Courtois • 14. Loftus-Cheek • 15. Moses • 16. Kenedy • 17. Musonda • 21. Zappacosta • 22. Willian • 23. Batshuayi • 24. Cahill (C) • 27. Christensen • 28. Azpilicueta • 30. Luiz • 37. Eduardo