John Obi Mikel was something of a marginalised figure at Chelsea last season, but remains a crucial component of Stephen Keshi’s Nigeria side.
The 27-year-old was limited to just 11 Premier League starts under Jose Mourinho and sees his future at Stamford Bridge up in the air with the transfer window now open.
Mikel has spent the last few weeks far from West London, however, in Brazil on international duty at the World Cup - where he’s played every minute available for the Super Eagles.
And despite being best known for his pugnacious defensive qualities in the centre of the park, Mikel has been sporting the no. 10 shirt for his country in South America.
Mikel is more likely to be found diving into a tackle than conjuring up the type of creative genius associated with the prestigious number, but for a moment on Monday, that wasn’t the case.
As Nigeria turned in a spirited display against France in the round of 16, the Chelsea man pulled off a stunning bit of trickery at the expense of one of the world’s most coveted midfielders.
Ex-Manchester United man Paul Pogba squared up to the holding midfielder midway through the first half with an eye on winning back possession, but was instead undone by a back-heeled nutmeg from Mikel.
The Nigerian’s deft pass even found its way to left-back Juwon Oshaniwa to bring a roar out of the crowd at the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia.
Unfortunately for Mikel and company it was Pogba who got the last laugh as he bagged the winner for France late on, denying the Super Eagles an historic trip to the quarter-finals.
Mikel’s focus will now turn to finding out where his future lies at the club level, with the likes of Inter said to be keen to scoop him up should Chelsea be keen to sell.