It's become a soundbite that has come back to haunt Jose Mourinho.
Only it's proved to be fool's gold.
Mikel has been far from the star Mourinho predicted, considerably less than the player Chelsea fans thought they were getting.
In his eight years at Stamford Bridge, the Nigerian has flattered to deceive.
There have been moments when it's seemed Mikel has finally been ready to make good on the potential of his youth, yet it's always been a false dawn.
En route to the Champions League final in 2012, Mikel had the look of his mentor Claude Makelele about his person.
In much the same way the Frenchman had, Mikel was bossing games in midfield and proving to be a considerable figure in the defensive pivot of Chelsea's midfield.
Partnering Frank Lampard, he was a major reason the club were able to turn their season around and go all the way in Munich, transforming the campaign from one of tragedy to become arguably the finest in Chelsea's history.
Those glorious three months are now a distant memory. Mikel has regressed to his former self, and since Nemanja Matic returned to West London in January, the writing has long been on the wall.
Indeed, Mikel has featured just six times in the Premier League since that time, starting just once, against Liverpool at Anfield on Apr. 27.
Even then his inclusion in the first XI was more to do with injuries, suspensions and Chelsea's upcoming Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid.
He has been a more regular face in Europe, but with Matic cup-tied having represented Benfica this term, Mourinho had little choice but to turn to him.
The point is, when Mourinho has had the luxury of selecting his preferred line-up, Mikel couldn't have been further from his mind.
Now reports are circulating, outlining Inter Milan's apparent interest, per The Mirror, Mourinho will be eager to show him the door and use the funds from his sale to invest in a squad more in his vision.
After eight years' service, it could be deemed harsh that most Chelsea fans will happily see the back of Mikel.
Put simply, though, he hasn't been good enough. Pre-Roman Abramovich, he may have cut it at Stamford Bridge, but with the level of player Chelsea fans have grown accustomed to in this past decade, Mikel has been way off the mark.
It's ironic that the manager who signed him all those years ago is now the one bringing down the axe on his Blues career, especially as he has played under a further seven managers during his time in West London.
Of those, four have been permanent and had ample transfer windows to offload Mikel. He's probably survived in all that time for the same reasons he did last summer—through a sheer need of numbers.
Mikel has played the squad role impeccably, floating from manager to manager with that one principle in mind.
With a decade at Chelsea approaching, it's no longer something he can get by on.
His number's up.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes
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