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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 July, 2005, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Lyon stand firm over Essien fee
Michael Essien
Lyon have once again told Chelsea they will not accept less than 32m for midfielder Michael Essien.

Club chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has told the Blues they must pay the price they offered for Steven Gerrard before he decided to stay at Anfield.

Aulas told French newspaper L'Equipe: "Forty-five million euros. That's the figure. We'll sell Michael for the price of Gerrard.

"They're going to pay up or my name's not Aulas."

Aulas wants the deal concluded by 25 July and despite the asking price, which would be a British record fee, Chelsea chairman Peter Kenyon said on Tuesday he was confident of landing Essien.

"Michael Essien is well and truly still an important acquisition for us. We've made two offers and had meetings with Lyon," he said.

"We've still got quite a long way to go but I'm hopeful it will come off."

Essien, whose contract with Lyon ends in 2008, has made it clear he wants to go to Chelsea.

"I think the transfer will be made," he said.

"I am convinced that I will go to Chelsea but in the meantime I am experiencing difficult times.

"I can't wait until everything is over. I also spoke with Didier Drogba and he wants me to come."

Aulas admitted that the player has shown signs of being unhappy over their refusal to sell.

"I wouldn't say he's being deliberately difficult but he's a very unhappy man and that hurts the rest of the squad," said Aulas.

Kenyon added: "They don't want to lose a player of his quality but we want to acquire a player of that quality and Michael has made it quite plain that he would like to join Chelsea and seize that opportunity.

"He sees it as a natural progression for him to move on from being France's top player."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is still keen on signing Essien, saying: "We have still a space in midfield.

"It's not somewhere we have problems. We're not in trouble but we have a space. So, during the open market if we can get a good player we'll do it."




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