Former Black Stars and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has disclosed how close he was to joining English powerhouse Liverpool in 2002.
Essien, who went to Chelsea to become a club icon said French trainer, Gerard Houĺlier, who was then Liverpool’s coach had talks with him, but he felt it was not the right moment to have left France for England.
According to the former AC Milan and Real Madrid player, he had so many offers from top clubs before his move to the Blues in 2005.
“I had lot of offers. I was close to signing for Liverpool when Gerard Houllier was their coach,” he revealed on ConvosWithCarol.
”I even went to Melwood to meet the coach. We had a talk and I returned to France but the offers were still coming.
”PSG, Olympique Marseille among few others came in with an offer but I told Bastia I don’t want to move and they also didn’t want to sell me at that time because they wanted me to stay for another year which was fine with me because I also didn’t want to leave the club too early so I decided to stay for another season, making it my third year with the club.
”Olympique Lyon joined the three aforementioned clubs to enquire about me but I thought it was too early to move to England.”
After that season, Essien finally joined two-time defending league champions Olympique Lyon in a €7.8 million transfer in 2003.
The former Ghanaian international confirmed that he had a soft spot in his heart for Olympic Lyon hence his move to the 1994UEFA Champions League winners.
“Lyon was my favourite team when I went to France because they were winning everything I told my agent that if Lyon has come into the picture I’d like to join them.
”PSG were then serious about signing me to the extent that they made an offer. I was back home at that time and the call came that PSG had made a bid for me. It was even on the national television that I had signed for PSG which I had not because I was still in Ghana.
”There were a lot of controversy going on between the board and my agent so when I came went back to Bastia, we met with the board members and the president, and I told them I’d prefer to join Lyon though I liked Paris.
”I was really caught between PSG and Lyon but my preference was always Lyon. I had then spoken to the president and their coach.
”I gave them my word that when I return from my holiday in Ghana I’ll do everything to sign for them but it was not easy.”
The combative midfield gem went on to spend two seasons at the Stade Gerland where he scored seven goals in 71 appearances.
Essien was voted the 2005 Player of the Year by France’s National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) and also named Ligue 1 Player of the Year and also he got nominated for the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year Award where he placed 22nd.
He then moved to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2005 and stayed at the club and won the UEFA Champions League in 2012 against Bayern München.
By Delrand Nii Ansah Mensah Whyte, Daily Mail GH