Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel reveals why he joined Middlesbrough and what fans can expect
John Obi Mikel is looking forward to a new challenge at Middlesbrough after a lengthy conversation with Boro boss Tony Pulis.
The former Chelsea midfielder turned down offers from other clubs to join the Teessiders on a short-term deal, and now wants to help Boro fight for promotion from the Championship.
Crystal Palace, Derby and Aston Villa were among the clubs who were linked with a move for Mikel, 31, who was available on a free transfer.
Yet the Nigerian international felt he could fit into Pulis' plans at the Riverside and is excited by the project.
“For me it’s looking at the project,” Mikel told the club's website.
“I spoke to a few clubs and I also spoke to Tony [Pulis], had a good chat with him.
“He’s told me where he wants to go with it and it definitely fits with what I want to do.
“The club wants to get promoted so hopefully I’m here to help in any way I can.
“It’s a family club and this is what I want. I like stability and this is why I was at Chelsea for a very long time.”
Following an 11-year spell at Chelsea, Mikel has amassed an impressive CV, which includes: one Champions League title, two Premier Leagues, the Europa League, three FA Cups and a League Cup.
After leaving Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA in 2017, Mikel joins Boro with the intentions of playing first-team football again.
The Nigerian is best known for playing as a holding midfielder but has also played further forward for his national side, and insists he's a team player.
“We have to put our heads together and help each other,” he said.
“If anyone knows me from my years at Chelsea, I always played for the team. The team comes first and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here.
“Here is going to be a challenge, but I love challenges.”