‘I hope to get him on loan from Chelsea next season’ – Stoke City boss O’Neill lauds ‘brilliant’ Mikel

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Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill has praised former Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder as "a brilliant signing" after they ended the 2020-21 EFL Championship season with a 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth.

The 34-year-old made his 39th league appearance on Saturday and he was on parade from start to finish as the visitors brought an end to their six-game winless run in the English second-tier division.

Goals from William Forrester and Thomas Smith secured maximum points for Stoke City but Mikel was solid in the midfield with his passes and control.

The 2005 Caf Most Promising Talent only joined the Potters on a short-term deal last August and O’Neill has expressed satisfaction with his contributions, and that he told the former Chelsea star of his ambition to sign him from Stamford Bridge again next season.

When asked about the Nigerian legend’s display on Saturday, O’Neill told Stoke on TrentLive: "Brilliant. I thought he was brilliant. The [control and the] pass he plays for Rabbi Matondo in the first half too.

"I've just said to him in the dressing room that I hope we can get that player on loan from Chelsea again next season. Today I thought he looked every bit.

"You can see with performances like that why he was at Chelsea for such a length of time in his career. He's been a top player who has won everything in the game.

"He's been a brilliant signing. When we're compact as a team we get the best of John. He's very positive around the club, a lot of help for the young players and I'm delighted to have him."

Before signing with the Potters as a free agent, Mikel terminated his contract with Turkish Super Lig club Trabzonspor during the coronavirus pandemic in March last year.

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The 34-year-old is renowned for his successful stint at Chelsea where he spent 11 years between 2006 and 2017.

During his time in London, Mikel won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a League Cup, one Uefa Europa League and the Uefa Champions League title.

His contract at bet365 Stadium is expected to expire at the end of June and it remains to be seen if the former Nigeria captain will extend his stay or continue his adventure elsewhere.