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Jose Mourinho explains why he played Mikel Obi as defensive midfielder and not number 10 during his tenure at Chelsea

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho has explained why he changed John Mikel Obi from an offensive midfielder to a defensive midfielder during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

The former Nigerian International, who arrived at Chelsea in 2006, was regarded as one of the best young playmakers in the world at that time.


He worked under Mourinho during the Portuguese’s tenure at the London club.

The 36-year-old was, however, changed to a defensive midfielder by the Portuguese.

Mourinho, now in charge of the Serie A side, AS Roma, revealed the reason behind his action.

“I liked everything about Mikel. If you go through all the positional[defensive] midfield players that I have had during my career, there are lots of similar things,” Mourinho said on the ObiOne Podcast.

“Aside from Claude Makelele who was small, I had them all tall and physically strong. They also knew how to occupy space and they have what I call ‘the simplicity of football’, which is fundamental in that position.

“The team needs balance, with or without the ball. A defensive midfielder needs to be humble in the sense that they recognize that the team is more important than themselves.

“With me at Chelsea, Mikel was a fantastic positional midfield player, very quick thinking, one touch, two touches, everything was simple, and the game was flowing.”

Mikel made 249 league appearances for Chelsea winning the Premier League title twice. He also won four FA Cup titles four times as well as the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

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