The former Super Eagles midfielder has unveiled the challenges faced by the Liverpool and Manchester City stars at Stamford Bridge
Former Chelsea midfield maestro John Obi Mikel has shed light on the struggles faced by two football icons, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, during their time at Stamford Bridge, Soccernet.ng reports.
De Bruyne, now a key figure at Manchester City, faced difficulties integrating into the Chelsea squad from 2012 to 2014.
Similarly, Salah, now shining at Liverpool, grappled with fitness issues and form during his brief stint between 2015 and 2016.
Speaking on the Obi One Podcast, Mikel delved into the obstacles encountered by the duo.
Mikel suggested that De Bruyne’s demeanour during training hindered his seamless assimilation.
“I think De Bruyne wasn’t the best trainer back then. He was somebody that comes to training and probably because he wasn’t playing that much, always having his head down, always angry and sulking,” Obi Mikel stated, likening De Bruyne’s behavior to that of an excluded child on the playground.
Furthermore, Mikel recounted an intense altercation between De Bruyne and former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o during a training session.
“I remember when Samuel Eto’o had a go at him and they had a massive fight on the training ground just because he [De Bruyne] wasn’t putting in the effort that Eto’o wanted so they had a massive row on the pitch.”
Mikel also attributed some of the struggles to the management style of then-manager Jose Mourinho.
According to Mikel, Mourinho’s tough approach affected both players, leaving them vulnerable to harsh criticism.
“They [Salah and De Bruyne] were so unlucky that the boss, Mourinho, then didn’t take any prisoners. If you weren’t doing your job, it didn’t matter who you were; he would have a go at you.”
The Nigerian midfielder highlighted an incident involving Salah, where Mourinho’s stringent criticism reduced the player to tears.
“He had a go at Mohamed Salah at half-time once, and he was in tears crying. We thought, ‘OK, he’s going to let him back on the pitch.’
“But then he destroyed the kid and then pulled him off. But that was just his mentality back then. But would Mourinho do that now? I think no.”
Mikel’s time at Chelsea, spanning 11 years, was marked by remarkable success, including triumphs in the UEFA Champions League in the 2011/12 season and the UEFA Europa League in the 2012/13 season.