Legendary ex-Super Eagles and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel turns 35 today which provides a perfect opportunity to reminisce on his impressive career and particularly his misunderstood talent.
Birthday boy John Obi Mikel would be worth at least 80 MILLION EUROS today
In honour of John Obi Mikel’s birthday, here’s an estimate of how his abilities would translate to today’s football.
Mikel was either a world-class talent or an underachiever depending on who you ask, such is the polarizing nature of his talent.
As a defensive midfielder, Mikel excelled at his craft, ranking high in ball-winning and taking good care of possession but the football world did not place importance on those sorts of stats at the time.
As recent as 2006 to 2017 (Mikel’s Premier League career) was, advanced passing and interception stats were not as in-depth as they are today which undermined Mikel’s importance.
The current third-best player in the world, Jorginho is currently valued at €45 million and held in high esteem for doing basically the same things Mikel was criticised for.
Mikel played 249 Premier League games in 10-and-half seasons at Chelsea and although Jorginho has played fewer games because he’s not been there long enough, there are still aspects of their game that is comparable.
Mikel had an impressive pass completion rate of 89.53% which is marginally higher than Jorginho’s 88.91%.
For most of his career, the biggest indictment of Mikel’s game was his supposed propensity to make one too many backward pass which the Premier League records him to have made 729 times.
By comparison, Jorginho has made 1158 back passes in less than half the games perhaps because teams play that way now.
In this era, the defensive midfielder or the holding man has become so important that they often get the most touches on most teams. They are often required to start attacks and quel pressure on the team which is why Jorginho understandably has so many back passes.
Mikel’s skillset is suited for exactly that and it is safe to say perhaps the Nigerian regista came ahead of his time in that regard.
Players with similar profiles to Mikel are among the most expensive in the world right now, Manchester City paid over €60 million to sign Spanish midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid in 2019. Now 25 years old, Rodri is currently valued at €70 million which makes one wonder how much a 25-year old Mikel would be worth today.
At 25 years, Mikel was dominating the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich in their own backyard. The Nigerian put up a holding midfield masterclass, winning both of his aerial battles and prevented either Toni Kroos or Bastian Schweinsteiger from getting near goal.
With his supreme technical ability, unrivalled strength and massively underrated vision, Mikel was a very competent defensive midfielder and had all the attributes to be the very best in that position especially when compared to the leading players of this era.
Going by how players are rated today, Mikel Obi in his prime years would have been worth around €80 million in the transfer market.