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StoryJohn Obi Mikel explains reason behind Middlesbrough switch

Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has highlighted that the ‘family club’ atmosphere at Middlesbrough had played a prime role in him making the switch. The Nigeria international had been a free-agent following the expiry of his contract with Tianjin TEDA in November last year and this saw him linked with several high-profile teams including AS Roma and Wolfsburg.

However, after weeks of speculation, the Super Eagles skipper has decided to join Boro on a short-term contract and speaking to the club’s official website, Mikel has indicated that the atmosphere around the Riverside outfit tempted him to pursue a Champions League challenge, he said: “For me it’s looking at the project. I spoke to a few clubs and I also spoke to Tony [Pulis], had a good chat with him. He’s told me where he wants to go with it and it definitely fits with what I want to do. The club wants to get promoted so hopefully I’m here to help in any way I can. It’s a family club and this is what I want. I like stability and this is why I was at Chelsea for a very long time.”

“Boro have possessed the Championship’s tightest defence this campaign and they have conceded just 20 goals from the 28 matches played“. However, they have been disappointing going forward and this has contributed to them “sharing the spoils on“ more occasions than any other side occupying the top six at the moment.

Despite this, they appear on course for another playoff promotion push and it will be interesting to see whether they can ward off the competition from the chasing teams, who have been better in terms of their scoring prowess. Middlesbrough are currently fifth in the standings with 47 points, three ahead of Bristol City, who are just outside of the playoff positions.