Former Super Eagles favourite Jon Obi Mikel has completed a transfer to Championship side Stoke City, with the 33-year-old returning to England after leaving Turkish club Trabzonspor after just one season. Mikel, who has an 11-year stint at Premier League giants Chelsea to his name, is reportedly desperate to end his playing days in the English top-flight, something he clearly feels is achievable at Stoke.
Mikel retired from international duty following the 2019 African Cup of Nations campaign, in which Nigeria finished in third place, with the midfielder having amassed 89 caps for the Super Eagles. Despite coming to the end of his career, Mikel showed during a short-term deal at Middlesbrough last year that he can still be a useful player at this level, with Stoke boss Michael O’Neill having expressed his delight at his arrival at the Bet365 Stadium.
Can Mikel Lead Stoke Back to the Premier League?
Stoke won three of their last four matches at the end of last season to move away from the relegation zone, however Mikel will be hoping that the Potters can compete at the other end of the table during the upcoming campaign. Bookmaker Betway has Stoke priced at odds of 13.0 to gain promotion back to the Premier League next season, with the likes of Watford and Norwich being among the favourites.
Mikel has won the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup during his time in England to date, however the veteran midfielder still clearly has the motivation to test himself. Mikel has played for the likes of Chinese side Tianjin TEDA, Middlesbrough and Trabzonspor following his departure from Stamford Bridge in 2017, while he has signed an initial 12-month contract at Stoke City.
Why Mikel Chose Stoke City
Mikel was believed to have a number of options upon his departure from Turkey, however former North Ireland manager O’Neill convinced the former Super Eagle to head to the North West of England, promising a promotion challenge this season. Mikel’s new coach stated that “I was really impressed with him when we met for the first time and he outlined what he wants from the next phase of his career. We spent four hours talking and he made it clear he wants to get back into the Premier League and finish his career there and hopefully he can do that with Stoke City.”
It looks clear that Mikel’s time with Nigeria at international level is over, however should he perform on a consistent basis for his new club side, a return for the Super Eagles at the 2021 African Cup of Nations should not be ruled out. As usual, Nigeria are among the favourites with the leading online bookies to win a tournament they last came out on top in back in 2013, with Mikel playing 90 minutes in the final against Burkina Faso.