London, August 19:
Chelsea finally got their man on Friday signing highly-rated Ghana midfielder Michael Essien from French champions Lyon. The English champions had been chasing Essien throughout the summer, but Lyon at first refused to allow him to leave. But once it became clear that he was determined to join up at Stamford Bridge, Lyon relented and it was just a question of completing the relevant paperwork after that. That was achieved this week with Essien passing a medical and agreeing personal terms. The fee was believed to be around 26 million pounds (38 million euros). Chelsea announced completion of the deal in a statement on their website www.chelseafc.com which read: â€œChelsea can confirm it has now reached an agreement with Lyon for the transfer of Michael Essien, who has agreed personal terms and passed a medical. The transfer is a club record for Chelsea and we would all like to welcome Michael to the club.â€
Essien began his career in local club Liberty in Ghana and came to the attention of European scouts when he played in the U-17 World Cup in 1999 in New Zealand. He transferred to Corsica side Bastia in September 2000. In 2001 he took part in the World Youth Championship in Argentina, and made his Ghana full team debut in the 2002 African Nations Cup. Despite interest from Manchester United, the 22-year-old Essien moved to Lyon in July 2003 in an 11-million-euro deal after failing to get a work permit in England.