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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
John Collins on Michael Essien
John Collins
By John Collins
Former Monaco and Scotland star

Michael Essien is a good player, but from what I've seen of him in French football and in the Champions League, I'm not convinced he's a great player.

He's certainly not a Zinedine Zidane or a Ronaldinho, the sort of player that is absolutely pivotal to a team.

Michael Essien
But he became flavour of the month, being linked with a number of top European clubs - and Chelsea's interest only served to inflate his transfer fee.

But for me, it is a bit of a strange signing for him to go to Chelsea.

Not only because Essien has cost so much money, but also because he is not quite a holding player in the mould of Claude Makelele.

Neither is he as good as Frank Lampard in getting forward and scoring goals. Added to that, I couldn't see Jose Mourinho deploying him on the right of midfield now that Shaun Wright-Phillips has signed.

The plus points are that Essien is very quick, very strong and has very good technique.

He is also a very good team player, but I wouldn't say I've seen him play a lot of games where he has been exceptional for Lyon.

Essien would be taking a gamble in moving to Chelsea
He's never dominated a game in the way that a Zidane or Ronaldinho is capable of doing.

Since Essien arrived from the small provincial club Bastia, Lyon have gone on to win two French titles. But then again, they had won successive titles before he arrived.

Last season he was part of a superb midfield - Mahamadou Diarra and Juninho Pernambucano were outstanding midfielders for former Lyon coach Paul Le Guen.

Essien was just one part of that midfield jigsaw.

Interestingly, I don't think Lyon will struggle without him. They have already prepared for his departure in buying Benoit Pedretti from Marseille, who is an established French international.

Essien is taking a gamble in moving to Chelsea ahead of the World Cup.

Obviously he will be well paid, but it's likely he will also have to spend some time on the bench.

As a player you have to look at all the angles when you make a big move like this.

When I moved clubs I always wanted to know whether the manager saw me as a first-team player or a squad player. Not every player asks that question.

I would rather play for a smaller team and play regularly than go to a huge club and spend time on the bench.

I was lucky that most of my career I was a first-choice player.

But my last season at Fulham was the most frustrating in my career because I spent so much time on the bench.

You'd train all week and then not get to play 90 minutes on Saturday. I can never understand how players do that regularly. It drove me mad.


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