Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel said he was hoping to step into Claude Makelele's shoes by making the holding role his own next season. The 21-year-old said he was hoping for a run in the team after the departure of Makelele, who occupied the position so successfully it has been informally named after him.
"I played that role sometimes last season and, hopefully, I'll have a long run in the team now," he said. "It's something I've wanted -- a run in the team -- and I suppose Claude's departure has opened up that door for me, but I was playing in that role when I was in the team last season too."
Mikel played all of Wednesday's 4-0 win over Guangzhou Pharmaceutical in the 'Makelele position' in front of the back four, and said he was enjoying a fresh start under new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
"In Avram Grant's time I was in and out of the side, and that was a bit frustrating, but it's what happens in football," he said. "This time, under the new boss, I will try and make it my position in the team each week."
Makelele, 35, left on a free transfer for Paris Saint Germain this week after five years at Chelsea.