It has been a sensational year to be a Sheffield United fan, hasn’t it?
Having secured promotion to the Premier League last month after edging out their Yorkshire rivals Leeds United in what was a fascinating race for second place in the Championship, Chris Wilder will understandably be wanting to bolster his squad over the summer.
Therefore, it is of little surprise that the Blades have already been linked with a player who has a proven track record of performing in the top flight.
According to Nigerian news outlet Sports247, United are reportedly interested in signing Middlesbrough midfielder John Obi Mikel when the transfer window opens in July.
With the £3.15m-rated ace’s (via Transfermarkt) current deal at the Riverside Stadium set to expire next month, Wilder could snap him up for free if he can fight off potential competition for his signature from Norwich City.
Keeping this rumour in mind, let’s compare Mikel with one of the Blades’ current midfielders…
JOHN OBI MIKEL
Despite it feeling as if John Obi Mikel has been around forever, at the age of 32, the Middlesbrough star has shown no signs of slowing down in recent years and was one of their most impressive players during the 2018/19 campaign.
A composed midfielder who provides an immense amount of defensive cover for both club and country, it is overwhelmingly clear that Mikel could still do a sufficient job in the Premier League next season if the Blades can convince him to join the club this summer.
Having made over 240 appearances in the top-flight during his 11-year stint with Chelsea, the Nigerian international could prove to be the all-important difference that allows United to prolong their stay amongst England’s elite club sides.
TT GRADE: A
When John Fleck joined the Blades in 2016 from Coventry City, he wouldn’t have even dared to imagine what was about to happen at the club over the next three years.
After experiencing a fantastic debut season for United in which Wilder’s side steamrollered their way to the League One title, the midfielder impressed once again in the following campaign and helped the club secure a 10th place finish in the Championship.
Although the arrival of Kieran Dowell and Oliver Norwood at Bramall Lane would have been concerning for Fleck, he used the added competition as a driving force to improve his game which resulted in him being directly involved in 12 goals for the club as they launched a successful push for promotion.
However, despite thriving in the second tier, the fact that the 27-year-old has never played in the top-flight means that he is entering uncharted territory next season and therefore will have to take his game to new heights if he is to keep his place in the United side.
TT GRADE: A-
Although John Fleck is arguably playing the best football of his career at Sheffield United, it could be argued that Wilder’s side would be securing an upgrade on the Scotsman by bringing John Obi Mikel to Bramall Lane.
Having played in the Premier League for Chelsea in the past, the Nigerian enforcer knows just what it takes to thrive at the very top and therefore could prove to be a valuable addition to United’s squad if they can convince him to make the switch from Middlesbrough in the summer.
Blades fans, should Wilder consider making a move for Mikel when the transfer window opens in July? Join the discussion by commenting below.
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