Stats: The mystery of Mikel - why he'll flourish away from Chelsea

John Obi's performances for Nigeria in World Cup a stark contrast to his Chelsea form - a timely renaissance considering Internazionale interest…

The performance level of John Obi Mikel in three World Cup matches for Nigeria is a stark contrast to his appearances throughout the Premier League season whilst representing Chelsea.

For the Super Eagles, Mikel has been an ever-present in their progression from the group stage and into the first knockout round, against France.

Versus Iran he was confident on the football, against Bosnia and Herzegovina he provided excellent protection to his defence but during the recent 3-2 loss to Argentina, he was caught-out in possession.

No, Mikel has not been the most effective Nigerian footballer in the competition to date - that honour perhaps belongs to Ahmed Musa or Emenike - but he has provided an experienced head and a markedly different player to the one at Chelsea.

  NationTouch /AppPass /App% of Fwd PassChanceTackle /AppDuel WonClear /AppAppMin
John Obi Nigeria 81.3 65.3 39.3% 1.7 2.67 7.0 1.7 3 270

For starters, he has well over twice as many touches on the football (81 for Nigeria on a per game average compared to 35 for Chelsea), while he also attempts far more passes and he is more positive in his approach - as 40% of his passes are toward goal, or a team-mate ahead of him on the field, rather than to the side or back to the defence.

Mikel is more creative for Nigeria, as he supplies a goal-scoring opportunity 1.7 times per match (five in the tournament to date), while he is also more effective in the tackle, clearing the football and when it comes to the duel.

  ClubTouch /AppPass /App% of Fwd PassChanceTackle /AppDuel WonClear /AppAppMin
John Obi Chelsea 35.2 28.5 31.0% 0.38 1.25 2.75 1.38 24 1,064

His performances this summer for his nation are not an anomaly - he is oft a key player for his country, as his outing against Cote d'Ivoire in the African Cup of Nations last year is testament to.

Two years ago, in the Confederations Cup, he returned a highlight-reel goal against the Uruguayans.

Why, though, is Mikel so much more effective for Nigeria than he is at Chelsea? Is it a case of a big-fish/little-pond scenario where he excels more frequently when he is the bigger star in the team, where play can be afforded to go through him?

Jose Mourinho's activity in the transfer market suggests Mikel will find pitch time even harder to come by next season, begging the question whether he'll end up heading for a Stamford Bridge exit for himself. Internazionale and Galatasaray have both been linked with a bid this year, but for the sake of his career, John Obi may be wise to take up any offer presented to him…

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