Stoke City have had a relatively unimpressive season, scoring just 56 points and finishing a mid-table 15th in the EFL Championship. After replacing Nathan Jones with Michael O’Neil as manager, Stoke would want to aim higher and get better results next season.
Keeping this in mind, Stoke City has signed John Obi Mikel from Turkish club Trabzonspor on a free transfer, after the club and the player mutually agreed to part ways. Mikel played just 19 games in the league for the club before leaving. Although he has not played competitive football for over 6 months, he claims to be fit and ready to start his second stint in the EFL Championship. A defensive midfielder, Mikel is strong and can tackle well. He is also a great passer and comfortable on the ball.
The Nigerian professional is extremely experienced and has spent a long time in England. He will be playing for an English team for the third time in his career, having made around 250 appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League.
During his long stint with Chelsea, Obi won almost every possible trophy with the Blues including the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, English Football League Cup, the Community Shield and the Europa League. He has also played around 100 times for his country, featuring in the AFCON, FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
Although 33-years-old, it looks like Mikel will have no problem settling in the Stoke squad. He played in the championship in 2019 with Middlesbrough and is used to the fast-paced and physical style of football that is played in England. His experience will prove to be a great asset to the team. There is no doubt that Mikel will help Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross on and off the pitch.
The aim for every Championship club is to gain promotion and play in the Premier League. But if Stoke City continue to play the way they did last season, there is no chance they can get even close to qualifying. The last time Stoke played in the Premier League was in 2017-18 and finished 19th, scoring just 33 points. They went down with Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion. Mikel brings his ‘winning mentality’ to the team which will help his teammates get inspired. He will also be a good influence to the younger players in the team and will help them develop.
Stoke City have aimed for a complete rebuild in the club, with new signings and coaching staff. They have appointed ex-player and fan favourite Liam Lawrence in a coaching role. Stoke fans would hope to get back to the Premier League as early as next season, but realistically, that seems like a tough target to achieve.