Manager Michael O’Neill has revealed that Stoke City went ahead to pursue the signing of Chelsea legend John Obi Mikel after receiving positive feedback from the midfielder’s former managers, including Tony Pulis.
Mikel shares the same ambition with Stoke City – playing in the English Premier League – and that was the main reason behind his decision to move to the bet365 Stadium.
The Champions’ League and Europa League winner, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup winner with Chelsea, was linked with possible moves to teams in Italy, Brazil and England before Stoke City won the race for his services.
“We didn’t feel that possibly we would be in a position to get him but having met the lad – he spent a day up here with us in Stoke – he liked what he saw and we liked what we saw in him in terms of what his vision was,” O’Neill said.
“And when you’ve got a player that has had the career at the level that John has had you are always a little bit worried about them coming to a team in the Championship.
“But we did a lot of due diligence on him, got references from people like Tony Pulis who he played under at Middlesbrough and other people that he’s worked under.
“But the most important thing was that John was really keen to come. He wants to try and finish his career in the Premier League having obviously been in China and having been abroad again in Turkey and hopefully he can do that with Stoke City.”
Stoke City, who were relegated from the Premier League in 2018, has spent 62 seasons in the top-flight of English football league system.