Martin Keown has repeated views that Chelsea have hampered the development of John Obi Mikel
Nigeria got their World Cup off the ground on Saturday night, racking up a first win of the tournament over Bosnia.
Ahead of that game, BBC pundits Martin Keown and Phil Neville gave their assessment of Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel, a long standing fixture in the Chelsea squad.
And Keown in particular was less than complimentary about the midfielder’s progress.
“They feel in Nigeria that actually Chelsea have ruined him. He was a top talent as a 17-year-old.
“He was a really top player and was creative. I feel he wants to go and do something but he doesn’t have the pace really to make the difference in the final third.”
Asked to elaborate, Keown responded, insinuating that actually Mikel’s lack of speed is the real issue hampering his development rather than anything Chelsea have done:
“In the world tournament he played in at under-17 level, Messi was the player of the tournament, he was the second best player, he was that good.
“He hasn’t really trained on and kicked on and for me it’s a lack of pace that he simply doesn’t have.”
Co-pundit, and former Manchester United and Everton man Phil Neville was also critical of Mikel.
“He’s got such a big physical attribute, he should really be running forward almost Vieira-like.
“He takes touches on the ball, he slows things down, he doesn’t use that physicality he should be using.”
Mikel was touted as the sort of player who could make an impact creatively upon joining Chelsea, but ever since his arrival he became clear he was more useful to the Blues as a holding midfielder.
His usefulness to the club however diminished somewhat last season, the 27-year-old only making 11 Premier League starts, and has been linked with a summer exit.
Do you agree a lack of pace is what hampers John Obi Mikel? Will he stay at Chelsea?