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Mikel: Ex-Chelsea star should consider NPFL switch – Makinwa

20:48 BST 11/05/2021
John Obi Mikel
With his future still uncertain, the seasoned tactician wants the former Super Eagles captain to consider a return to Nigeria’s elite division

Veteran Nigerian coach Henry Makinwa has encouraged John Obi Mikel to consider a switch to the Nigeria Professional Football League, saying it would be a "massive win" for the Nigerian top flight.

Mikel joined EFL Championship side Stoke City on a short-term deal after leaving Turkish Super Lig outfit Trabzonspor not long after the coronavirus pandemic first became a global crisis.

However, his contract with the Potters expires at the end of the 2020-21 campaign – prompting speculation in the media about where he would continue his professional career.

Although Stoke boss Michael O'Neill would want the "brilliant signing" to stay at Bet365 Stadium for another year, the lethal former Vitoria Setubal and Rapid Bucuresti striker fancy him to borrow a leaf from Ahmed Musa.

“That would be highly welcomed if he can consider that option,” Makinwa told Goal when asked if Mikel should make a return to Nigeria.

“I once wrote about this many years back but that could not stand then. If he does that, we will welcome him back home.

“It would be a massive win for the NPFL and the local fans. I made the same appeal to our qualified Nigerian coaches abroad like Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke, Haruna Doda and so on to come home so that we can build the country’s football together.”

For Makinwa – who is one of the very few Nigerians to hold a Uefa pro badge with the Spanish Football Federation – he further opened up on what Nigerian football would gain if Super Eagles legends end their career in the country’s top flight.

“It would be a fantastic moment to bring the pool of crowd to the stadium,” continued the former Abia Warriors and Katsina United tactician.

“It will boost the face value of our league and shift the world footballing eye satellite on the Nigerian league.

“Furthermore, it would be a big chance for upcoming footballers to learn massively from them.”

After an impressive showing with Nigeria at the U20 Fifa World Cup in 2005, Mikel joined Premier League giants Chelsea from Lyn Oslo.

At Stamford Bridge, he enjoyed huge success, winning the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier League and three FA Cups.

He left the Blues after staying over 10 years with the Londoners to continue his career with Tianjin Teda before stints with Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor and now Stoke City.

On the international scene, he earned 91 caps for Nigeria and he played a key role in the Super Eagles triumph at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.