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4 reasons Mikel's China move is bad for football

Friday 6th January 2017
The football universe woke up Friday morning to the news that Chelsea stalwart, John Mikel Obi, has joined the chariots of superstars making the move to the Chinese Super League. Just when the whole of the African continent was busy keeping tabs on the 2016 Glo/CAF awards, the 29-year-old was busy sealing a three-year deal with Tianjin TEDA.

Mikel, who enjoyed more than a decade of trophy-laden career at Stamford Bridge - racking up an incredible 374  appearances, will earn around £140,000 weekly - almost twice what he received at Stamford Bridge.

"I say goodbye as a Champion of England, a Champion of Europe, and proud captain of my national team," the Nigerian said in an emotional farewell message on Friday. "To play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, is every professional player's ambition. But to play for Chelsea, to become part of the Chelsea family, to work with some of the best managers in the world, has been an honour. I'm delighted to be joining Tianjin TEDA FC in China, at a time that the Chinese Super League is really taking off, and I look forward to helping Tianjin TEDA FC continue to grow both on and off the pitch in the next few years."
But is joining the bandwagon to the Asian powerhouse the best move for Mikel? Here are four facts which suggest he might have made the wrong choice.

1 - He's just 29



Bar the South Americans, many other top footballers moving to China are approaching the twilight of their career and in need of a solid retirement package. Papiss Cisse, Graziano Pellè, Demba ba, Obafemi Martins among others are in their 30's compared to Mikel who is just 29. The Nigerian is certainly in his prime with loads of football left in him and a move to another European side would have been more beneficial football wise.

2 - FIFA World Cup in sight



Whether we like it or not, Mikel's transit to China will definitely affect his chances of captaining the Super Eagles to a FIFA World Cup finals. Russia 2018 is just around the corner, with Nigeria in pole position to qualify for their sixth Mundial. However, the 29-year-old might not even make the trip, not to talk about leading the team, especially with the large pool of Nigerian young lads coming through.

3 - Wage nothing compared to others



When a top player moves to China, first thing on the minds of many is how much they will earn. This is because the CSL has proven to offer astronomical wages - such that no other league can compete with. But shockingly, Mikel's deal isn't as tantalising as others who have joined the Asian nation. As a matter of fact, the 29-year-old is on £140K weekly, which is one of the lowest earners to have joined from Europe. The likes of Carlos Tevez (£615K), Oscar (£500K), Ezequiel Lavezzi (£400K), Pelle and Alex Witsel (£300K) to mention but a few earn way higher than the Nigerian.

4 - Who knows Tianjin TEDA?



Even if Mikel wanted a Chinese club, won't he had settled for the more popular and successful ones? TEDA is definitely not among the elites in the country and isn't popular either in Europe. According to Forbes, the club is ranked eighth richest - trailing the likes of Guangzhou Evergrande, Beijing Guoan, Shanghai SIPG and Shanghai Shenhua. They finished 10th last season, meaning Mikel might struggle in the league.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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