Reports in Turkey have intimated that Chelsea blocked John Obi Mikel’s move to Besiktas on transfer deadline day as they were unable to nab Paul Pogba from Juventus.
The titanic French midfielder was allegedly subject of a bid from the Premier League champions, but their Serie A counterparts rebuffed their approach.
As a direct consequence of their inability to sign the former Manchester United prodigy, the west Londoners weren’t in a position to relinquish their surplus-to-requirements anchorman, who will now spend the coming months warming the bench instead of storming the Super Lig.
This position in Chelsea purgatory is undoubtedly a source of great frustration for Mikel, but him being abandoned in this unenviable situation is one Pogba has to be eternally grateful for.
On a stratospheric rise from Man Utd reserve to world’s best midfielder, the 22-year-old is lauded for his prowess in all departments.
Strong and skilful, with an exceptional passing range and an eye for goal, Pogba has the speed to play out wide, the style to support the strikers and the steel to sit in front of defences, but where does this otherworldly talent fit in Jose Mourinho’s rigid tactical machine?
Given Mikel wasn’t allowed to leave on account of their failure to sign the Juve star, it seems as though he was going to be used to add further protection to Chelsea’s usually ironclad backline.
Safety-first strategist Mourinho favours discipline, positional awareness and, above all else, caution in his centre-midfielders; there’s no way he’d have allowed Pogba the box-to-box freedom he requires to flourish, thus negating his enormous attacking threat.
It’s a recalibration Mikel himself is all too familiar with; the Nigerian exemplified many of the characteristics evident in Pogba’s game when he was blipping on radars across Europe as one of the brightest midfield prospects in world football.
At 18, he was the centre of a drawn out transfer wrangle involving Chelsea and United, with the Blues forking out £16m (£12m to the Red Devils, £4m to Lyn Oslo) to make sure they beat the Old Trafford outfit to Mikel’s signature.
Were he just a defensive screen with no striking qualities aside from an unwavering accuracy when it comes to making short sideways passes, why would Chelsea have gone to this ridiculous extent to sign him?
It was Jose Mourinho who converted a former playmaking sensation into the unimpressive also-ran Premier League spectators have come to know him as and Pogba has been spared the same fate.