How Stoke City Signed Mikel Obi – O’Neill

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has revealed how the club made painstaking inquiries before signing former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

The 33-year-old was snapped up by the Championship side as a free agent on Monday on a one-year deal, having been without a club since parting ways with Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor in March.
The former Nigeria international made his name during his time at Stamford Bridge, where he spent 11 years and won a number of laurels, including the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League titles.
The midfielder then moved to China in 2017 to join Tianjin Teda and spent a season with the Super League club before returning to England in January 2019, signing a short-term deal with Middlesborough.
Mikel delivered impressive performances in the 19 games he featured for the club which saw him become the toast of the fans before he left the side to team up with Trabzonspor.
O’Neill explained the Potters made an enquiry from the midfielder’s former manager at Middleborough Tony Pulis as part of their investigations before securing his signature.
“We didn’t feel that possibly we would be in a position to get him but having met the lad – he spent a day up here with us in Stoke – he liked what he saw and we liked what we saw in him in terms of what his vision was,” O’Neill told TalkSPORT.
“And when you’ve got a player that has had the career at the level that John has had you are always a little bit worried about them coming to a team in the Championship.
“But we did a lot of due diligence on him, got references from people like Tony Pulis who he played under at Middlesbrough and other people that he’s worked under.
“But the most important thing was that John was really keen to come. He wants to try and finish his career in the Premier League having obviously been in China and having been abroad again in Turkey and hopefully, he can do that with Stoke City.”

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