Mikel was a peripheral figure under Mourinho, making just six league appearances before the Portuguese manager was dismissed. Similarly, the central midfielder failed to truly impress during the opening stages of the season, and was lacklustre in defeats to FC Porto (twice), West Ham United, Everton, and the League Cup elimination at the hands of Stoke City.
However, the Super Eagles star has been brought into the fold under Hiddink, featuring in all three of the Dutch coach’s matches since being appointed as interim manager.
Speaking after the Blues’ 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday—a result that signals the champions’ improving fortunes—the former Netherlands manager has insisted that the 28-year-old can be a key figure as the side look to rediscover their former lustre.
“He played very well but also in the previous game,” he began, as per Goal.
“He’s the ideal player in my option to bring balance to the team. If the team is not willing to defend well, or hasn’t got the right balance, then you’ll concede a lot of goals.
“I think John Obi can be one of the key figures in bringing back that balance,” he continued. “On this podium very talented players can explore their qualities.
Italian giants offering Manchester United midfielder route out of Old Trafford
Man City plotting €55m move to bring Liverpool target & Bundesliga wonderkid to Eastlands
Liverpool set to miss out on Jurgen Klopp protégé as Bundesliga side swoop in
“He can recover his radar, he reads the game very well, he knows where the strength of the opponent is and knows how to combat that. He has very good sense, he doesn’t do it in a brutal way, he’s very elegant.
“Someone who can defend so smoothly is very beautiful. I don’t expect the decisive final pass from him – he can (do that), but he can also let the other players [play].”