Tianjin Teda of China midfielder, John Mikel Obi has been confirmed as second fiddle behind the club’s new Brazilian star, Jonathan, whose presence in the team will continue to keep the Nigerian skipper out of a starting role.
This much has been unwittingly confirmed by Teda’s German coach, Uli Stielike, who hinted that any chance of Mikel playing this weekend depended on Jonathan’s availability and fitness.
Though the German ex-international rubbished speculation linking Mikel with a transfer from the Chinese Super League club this summer, Stielike admitted that the Eagles’ star’s chances of stating matches this season depends of Jonathan’s presence.
Stielike ruled out any chance of Mikel leaving before the expiration of his contract at the end of this season, but he admitted that the former Chelsea midfielder lost his spot in his Tianjin-based side’s starting line-up after recovering from a knee injury.
Stielike has also been constrained by CLS rules on foreign player quotas for each match, such that he picked Ghana’s Acheampong and German ace, Bastians alongside Jonathan as the three foreigners in the squad.
That decision left Mikel out, only for the Eagles star, who did not feature in six matches since the Chinese Super League resumed after the World Cup, to return for Saturday’s match against Jiangsu Suning.
Mikel played his first game since his involvement with Nigeria at the World Cup as his Chinese side Tianjin Teda forced visiting Jiangsu Suning FC to a 1-1 draw.
Mikel was on for the entire duration of the game alternating between his role as the defensive midfielder of the team with creative moves upfront to set up attacks.
Although his team failed to bag all three points, his performance was roundly praised as one of the best players on the pitch for his team during the entire duration of the game.
However, Mikel’s return to Tead’s starting eleven was only because Jonathan failed a fitness test, yet Stielike insists there is no truth in all transfer reports swirling round the Eagles’ captain.
Stielike stated: ”I don’t know about this news, and I am not interested. We only want to focus on this year’s league. As for whether Mikel will play, it depends on whether Jonathan can recover.”