In Chelsea's blue strip, Mikel strikes the pose of a most unimaginable holding player, hitting repetitive sideways and backwards passes.
But in Nigeria colours, he has sparkled in a free, offensive role in Stephen Keshi's expansive 4-3-3, showing a repertoire of incisive passing, outrageous skill and even a goal that puts his Chelsea photocopy to shame.
Mikel told KickOffNigeria.com that he would now need to strike a balance between the two, "I always try to do what my coaches tell me. At Chelsea, I have to play for the team and be more defensive.
"But in Nigeria, the coach allows me to express myself and I enjoy myself.
"Now, I have to find a balance between the two because it is important for my future."
Mikel was particularly impressive against Uruguay and Spain, dominating a midfield that included Spanish greats Xavi and Iniesta and popping up to score a quite magnificent goal of breathtaking skill against Uruguay.
Now he says he wants more. "I was very happy to score the goal," Mikel said with some modesty.
"When Ideye passed the ball to me, I knew I just needed to beat the defender, and as soon as I did that, I just needed to be calm and put the ball where I wanted it.
"It felt great to score a goal after so long. Now maybe I can score more," he added.