There is a hole at Real Madrid that has never been filled, properly, and Mikel Obi is the man for the job, says Rik Sharma, a former Daily Mail journalist who now writes for Diario Sport in Barcelona, Spain.
Sharma insists Madrid has not found the perfect replacement for their former defensive midfielder Claude Makelele who he described as the best the club has ever ‘Claude Makelele left Los Blancos to join Chelsea in 2003 and since then a variety of midfielders, from Thomas Gravesen to Lassana Diarra, Fernando Gago to Asier Illarramendi have tried and failed to replace him,’wrote Sharma,adding that the arrival of Xabi Alonso from Liverpool papered over the weakness in Real’s midfield.
“Alonso changed the mould and paved the way for someone like Luka Modric to play in defensive midfield, an extremely attacking, creative player for the position.
Modric is doing an excellent job, and Toni Kroos alongside him too.’ Sharma however believes Madrid lack the presence of a true defensive midfielder, someone whose first thought, their natural instinct, is to shut down the opposition.
“Against Celta Vigo Madrid had huge holes in their midfield; they were being ripped to pieces.
Modric was missing, out injured, but even he wouldn’t have been able to fill that space like Mikel would.
His vision, strength and ability to shield the ball with three or more opposition players trying to take it from him is a valuable resource,’he further wrote and insists the Nigerian has not been properly appreciated by fans.
‘Every manager Mikel has ever had at Chelsea has appreciated him.
Jose Mourinho helped him become the defensive midfielder he is today, after signing him in 2006.
At just 19 years old, Mourinho played Mikel 42 times in his debut season in English football.
There were rash challenges and a steep learning curve for the Nigerian, but he’s managed it and hasn’t been sent off since the 2007-08 season.
After Mourinho, Avram Grant. After Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Guus Hiddink, Ancelotti himself, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez. Mikel has been appreciated by all of these managers.
He is a big-game player. When Chelsea need him to step up and take the weight, he has done.
Arguably his best performance for the club came in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich. A resolute display at the heart of the team kept the Germans at bay, and Chelsea eventually emerged triumphant.
Ancelotti used Mikel a lot in the season he won the double with Chelsea, the midfielder being the platform that Florent Malouda, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Nicholas Anelka and Co built from.’