John Obi Mikel .... or is it Mikel John Obi? Perhaps John Mikel Obi? After nine seasons this is still not quite clear to me. What is abundantly clear, however, is that Mikel is part of the furniture after a near-decade of loyal service.
After all the controversy of his signing and initial hot-headedness, Mikel has settled in to be a quiet, strong, consistent member and leader of the squad. For better or worse, we know what we're getting every time the 28-year-old steps on the pitch. And the fact that he's just 28 is almost as amazing as the fact that after Petr Cech's departure this summer, Mikel's now the second-longest serving active member of the squad. Although he made just 26 appearances last season, he's now moved into 25th spot on the all-time appearance list, one ahead of Ashley Cole and 4 behind Peter Houseman.
This seems to be an opportune time to update our list of the Chelsea 300 Club, which welcomed its 35th member, Branislav Ivanović this past season.
Mikel might be slowing down his appearance rate, but he's got two years left on his current contract and he has no intentions of leaving any earlier than that.
"I have two years left on my contract here and want to see them out. I am happy here and we will see what happens. I do want to stay, the manager wants me to stay so I don't have any issues."
Mikel had been linked with moves to the UAE and Turkey, and for a quick minute it looked like one of those moves might actually come off. But it sure doesn't sound like the Human Final Whistle is ready blow the final whistle on his own time at Chelsea anytime soon.
"The manager has told me he wants me to stay. He said that and I'm pretty happy to stay."
"This is going to be my tenth season at the club, next year it will be my 11th. I have been here so long due to the contracts I have signed and I like to be somewhere where I have developed friendships. This is like my family now. Every time I come to work it's like coming into see my family. I know the whole place, the staff, it is going to be a hard place to leave when my contract runs out and then we will see what happens."
-John Obi Mikel; source: Standard
Football can be a harsh business. A cold business. What makes it special is that there is room for emotion. For loyalty. For family. And Mikel's family. And we love family.