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Chelsea transfer news: Michael Essien reveals why he rejected Man Utd



Michael Essien spent nine years at Chelsea (Picture: Getty)

Chelsea legend Michael Essien insists he would have ‘loved’ to play for Manchester United but he couldn’t reject the Blues after Didier Drogba teamed up with Jose Mourinho to convince him to move to Stamford Bridge.

The Ghanian was at Lyon when he was the subject of a tug-of-war between the Premier League rivals, with Sir Alex Ferguson viewing the dynamic midfielder as long-term replacement for Roy Keane.

United were leading the race throughout 2005 but it was Chelsea that won the £26m race for Essien’s signature and he won eight major honours during his nine years in west London.

And Essien’s revealed that Chelsea legend Drogba played a key part in his decision as the striker spoke to him on the phone before passing on his number to Mourinho.

Alex Ferguson wanted to sign Essien but he chose Chelsea (Picture: Getty)

‘My second year at Lyon, when we finished the season, I came back to start pre-season with them and I came back very happy to start pre-season. That’s when the other teams started coming in like Chelsea and Manchester United,’ Essien told South African reporter Carol Tshabalala.

‘At that point I’d have loved to have joined United. But I was speaking with Jose every other day and he made It clear, very straight to me, that he wanted me to join Chelsea and there was only Chelsea that could pay the transfer fee at that time.

‘It was not easy but I remember the first time I spoke to Jose. I went to Malouda’s house for a barbeque and then during the barbeque Drogba called him and he and Drogba started speaking because they are very close and then Drogba asked him, “When you see Michael, whenever you see him, can you tell him Jose wants his number, Jose wants to talk to him?” but then he said, “No, Michael is here, we’re having a barbeque!”.

‘So he gave the phone to me and I started speaking to Drogba and that’s how we started. I passed on my number to him and he passed it on to Jose and that’s when everything started. It was a tough transfer saga.’

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Mourinho made no secret of his admiration for Essien after he left Chelsea and he refers to the Ghanian as his ‘son’.

The Portuguese coach signed the midfielder when he arrived at Real Madrid in 2010.

MORE: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals the complaint Jose Mourinho made on his return to Old Trafford

Chelsea FC

Fikayo Tomori reveals he nearly quit Chelsea as a youngster



Tomori almost quit (Picture: Getty)

Fikayo Tomori admitted he nearly quit Chelsea in his early days at Cobham – when he thought he wouldn’t make it as a youngster.

Tomori has enjoyed a fine breakthrough season under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge but it could all have been very different.

He arrived at the club’s centre of excellence as a 7-year-old and rose through the ranks, eventually reaching the starting XI, while he has been capped for England.

But on his first time at Cobham, when he played with fellow Premier League players Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke, Tomori – who has played 22 times for Chelsea in all competitions this season – felt he wasn’t up to the required standard and told his father he wanted to quit.

‘Once I’ve left the centre of excellence, I’m going to Cobham and obviously this is proper Cobham, I’d see Tammy [Abraham] there, Dom Solanke,’ Tomori told Chelsea TV.

‘I noticed that I couldn’t just pick the ball up and run through everyone. So after that I got back in the car and I told my parents: “I’m not coming back here anymore.”

Tomori has impressed Lampard this season (Picture: Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty)

‘It was obviously a level up and my dad said: “No, you’re going to come back.”

‘It wasn’t the fact that he was saying: “You must be a footballer, you must play football,” it was kind of like, you are at a level where you need to challenge yourself.

‘There is no point playing with people that you find it too easy, if you come here and challenge yourself you are going to get better and I am glad he had that take on it.’

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Chelsea FC

What Didier Deschamps told Chelsea star N’Golo Kante after his refusal to train



Deschamps backs Kante’s decision not to train during the pandemic (Picture: Getty Images)

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has the ‘respect’ of his France manager Didier Deschamps for refusing to return to training due to fears he could contract Covid-19.

The 29-year-old took part in one training session last week with the rest of the first team but has opted out of any further involvement since then.

Kante has a family history of heart problems and the club have told him he can miss the rest of the season if he doesn’t feel comfortable enough to return.

Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero admitted the France international is scared after suffering with coronavirus symptoms during quarantine, and the midfielder’s decision to sit out has been praised by his international manager Deschamps.

‘Not only do I understand it, but I find the case of [N’Golo Kante] exemplary,’ Deschamps told Le Parisian.

‘N’Golo is whole, natural. He always has a smile.

Chelsea players such as Mason Mount have returned to training (Picture: Getty Images)

‘He has expressed his feelings. I told him, “Respect”.

‘It is good that his club heard him and granted him his wish. You have to take into account the feelings of the players.

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‘Football is their job and their passion, but they cannot live the current situation in a carefree manner, without being worried.

‘If the club, which is the employer, demands that they come to train, it is complicated for them not to perform.’

MORE: N’Golo Kante has told Chelsea teammates he is scared to return to training

MORE: Chelsea decide not to exercise £13m buy-back option for Jeremie Boga

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Arsenal FC

Ashley Cole reveals Arsenal’s mistake convinced him to join Chelsea



Ashley Cole says Arsenal’s failure to replace key players forced his move to Chelsea (Getty Images)

Ashley Cole says that the departure of Arsenal’s key players was a decisive factor behind his move to Chelsea.

Cole came through Arsenal’s academy and helped the club win two Premier League titles and three FA Cup trophies before making the controversial switch to Chelsea in 2006.

The former England left-back has denied suggestions that he was motivated to join Chelsea for the money and claims Arsenal were ‘falling apart’ by the time he left Arsene Wenger’s side after failing to replace important players.

‘The transition in terms of being in a different group, environment and players was easy because at the time when I first started at Arsenal, that was the core – the Keowns, the Seamans, the Vieiras, the Henrys, the Adams’,’ Cole told BBC Sport.

‘When they started to leave, this is just me personally, I felt there were holes in the culture of what it was that brought success.

‘I just felt it was falling apart a bit, or there were gaps missing and they weren’t filled.

Ashley Cole won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 (Getty Images)

‘So that transition in terms of finding myself in a different culture and the willingness and want to win, I went to Chelsea and I had that.’

Asked if he would handle the move differently if given another chance, Cole replied: ‘Yeah, I think when you look back, there were mistakes, for sure, on both sides.

‘One hundred per cent, it’s not just entirely my fault and it’s not entirely their fault.

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‘I was probably a little bit too stubborn at the time and felt a little bit hard done by.

‘I was a little bit babyish to be honest, but it’s something I won’t ever regret and I wouldn’t ever change that situation. It’s just something that happened. Maybe it was meant to be, who knows?

‘But I definitely feel unjust about it because it wasn’t what people think in terms of money.

‘It’s crazy, but that was probably the last thing on my mind.’

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