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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 August 2005, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Essien saga poised to reach D-Day
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Michael Essien
Nationality: Ghanaian
Age: 22
Place of birth Accra, Ghana
Position: Right-footed midfielder
Clubs: Bastia (2000-2003), Lyon (2003- )
Michael Essien is likely to discover on Monday if he will finally be allowed to leave Lyon and join Chelsea.

The two clubs will hold more talks over the weekend after a new offer in excess of 20m plus Tiago for the 22-year-old was turned down by Lyon.

Essien's agent Fabien Piveteau told BBC Sport: "Monday is a very important day. I feel if there is not a solution by then it will prove very difficult.

"We hope a solution is found because Michael absolutely wants to leave."

He added: "It has been going on for a month and a half now and is very difficult.

"There will be more discussions between Peter Kenyon and Lyon. Michael wants to leave and play for Chelsea, so we are hoping this can be finalised."

And Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed the saga was now reaching a climax.

"It will happen this weekend or it will not happen at all," Aulas told Saturday's issue of regional weekly Le Progres.

He confirmed a new Chelsea bid had been made, but added: "It still does not correspond to what we wish even if Chelsea have made the effort to include in the negotiation a player we're interested in,"

Chelsea have had bids of 10m, 16.75m, 18m and 21m turned down by Lyon.

Essien has still been named in the Lyon squad to face Racing Strasbourg.

"Essien will be in the squad. I do not know if he will play because I want to trust the ones who played at Le Mans," said Lyon boss and former Liverpool chief Gerard Houllier.

However, Piveteau insists that an agreement has been struck between the player, Houllier and president Jean-Michel Aulas that he will play no more games for Lyon.

"Gerard Houllier is not happy but it's very, very difficult for Michael because he's in Lyon but his head is in Chelsea," said Piveteau.

"He would prefer to play no games because he is afraid of injury. I think Lyon understands now that Michael doesn't want to stay."

Piveteau denied any suggestion that Essien has a bad attitude and ruled out a move to Arsenal or Manchester United.

"He has decided to go to Chelsea because they have pushed with Lyon for one month now and he knows Chelsea want him absolutely," said Piveteau.

Lyon are holding out for 32m as well as a player in exchange for the Ghanaian midfielder, who still has three years on his contract.

Essien was earlier quoted as saying: "I feel very let down by Lyon. I cannot understand why they've acted this way."

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24 Jun 05 |  African


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