John Obi Mikel has sealed a move away from Stoke City to Kuwait Sports Club, despite only agreeing a new contract with the Potters last month.
— نادي الكويت الرياضي (@kuwaitclub) July 1, 2021
The experienced Nigerian international was a key figure for Michael O’Neill’s side, featuring in 39 games as the Staffordshire outfit ended up finishing in mid-table.
There had been doubts about Mikel’s long-term future with his deal expiring in the summer, but it was confirmed that he would extend his stay.
However, in a surprising twist, the 34-year-old has no left the Bet365 Stadium, with the Kuwaiti side announcing his arrival on their social media last night, with Mikel believed to have signed what is described as a ‘big-money’ contract.
Whilst his absence will be felt by O’Neill, it’s no secret that the Potters are facing up to a tough summer financially as they prepare for another year outside the Premier League.
Reducing the wage bill is a priority for the club this summer, so Mikel’s departure will certainly help on that front, although further exits are still expected in the coming weeks.
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This is a surprising move considering Mikel had committed his future to the club just last month and O’Neill would no doubt have been planning to use the midfielder moving forward.
But, football can be unpredictable and whilst this is obviously a blow for the Potters, it will help them as they cut costs.
Now, it’s about O’Neill trying to find a replacement and it will be interesting to see how this impacts anymore potential exits that are lined up from Stoke this summer.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.