John Obi Mikel signed for Middlesbrough in the January transfer window despite interest from Championship rivals Aston Villa.
John Obi Mikel has barely put a foot wrong since he returned to English football with Middlesbrough in January.
The cynics might have wondered whether the former Chelsea midfielder could still cut it on British shores after two years in China but it looks like he’s never been away. Mikel has been quietly brilliant in his five Championship games so far, immediately establishing himself as a key player for Tony Pulis’s Boro side.
So an Aston Villa team who tried and failed to sign the 31-year-old before he moved to the Riverside, according to The Sun (23 January, page 51) might be wondering what could have been – especially with Dean Smith’s side still bang out of form.
Villa continue to look far less than the sum of their parts under the former Brentford boss and, shockingly, have the third worst defensive record in the division.
Mikel, who offers a sheet of steel in front of the backline with his experience and composure helping those behind him, could have solved their Achilles heel.
Fortunately for Aston Villa, they might soon have a second chance to bring the veteran Nigerian to the Midlands. His short-term contract at Middlesbrough expires in July and he will soon be available on a free again.
And while Mikel might be keen to stay in the North East, Aston Villa must try again. He could be their missing link.