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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Chelsea lead chase for Essien
Ghana's Michael Essien
Ghana's Michael Essien is Player of the Year in France

English Premiership champions Chelsea are in pole position to land Lyon and Ghana midfielder Michael Essien, according to the player's agent.

He also claims that Real Madrid are out of the running to sign the 22-year-old.

The Lyon midfielder's agent, Fabien Piveteau, told Spanish sports daily Marca: "We have spoken with Madrid after they showed an interest in the player but they stated that, at this time, they don't have a place for a non-European.

"Right now he is closer to Chelsea but both clubs have to keep on talking."

But Marca claim that Madrid have not yet given up and are waiting to see the size of Chelsea's offer before deciding whether or not to enter a bidding war.

Even then, Chelsea, backed by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, would be in pole position as they have the financial muscle to out-bid anyone.

Essien is one of the most sought-after players in Europe after another impressive campaign for Lyon, who have just captured their fourth successive Ligue 1 title.

On Sunday, the Ghanaian was voted Player of the Year by France's National Union of Professional Footballers.




SEE ALSO
Essien wins French award
23 May 05 |  African



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