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Chelsea midfielder Essien inks new five-year deal

SoccerNews in English Premier League 22 Jul 2008


Chelsea announced a fresh five-year deal for midfielder Michael Essien on Tuesday as the club's new era began to take shape.

The industrious Ghana international became the third player in a week to commit to Luiz Felipe Scolari's team after defender Wayne Bridge and goalkeeper Petr Cech.

“I'm very happy here — we have a great team and fantastic fans who have always made me welcome,” Essien told Chelsea's website.

“With the addition of the new manager, I am feeling very positive about the season ahead.”

British media reported that the deal was worth a cool 20 million pounds (40 million dollars) with Essien banking 80,000 pounds a week.

Brazilian coach Scolari hailed the versatile 25-year-old, who has scored 14 goals in 143 appearances since joining Chelsea in 2005.

“I have not been here long but it is clear to me that Michael Essien is one of the best midfield players in the world,” he said.

Scolari, who leads Chelsea for the first time here on Wednesday, is busy assembling a top-class squad to realise billionaire owner Roman Abramovich's sky-high expectations.

He has already snapped up Deco and Jose Boswinga, who played under him at Portugal, and Chelsea are also chasing Real Madrid sharp-shooter Robinho.

However, they have denied a staggering 238-million-dollar bid for AC Milan's Kaka and said negotiations had stalled.

Chelsea on Monday off-loaded defensive midfielder Claude Makelele — distinguished by having the position named after him — and Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz on free transfers.

Hernan Crespo has also left on a free and Steve Sidwell was sold to Aston Villa for 5.5 million pounds, while Shaun Wright-Phillips is being courted by Portsmouth.

Transfer speculation also continues to swirl around striker Didier Drogba, who is missing the pre-season tour through injury, and unsettled midfielder Frank Lampard.

Scolari, a World Cup-winning coach with Brazil, will be in no doubt about Abramovich's ambitions after becoming Chelsea's third manager in the past year.

His immediate predecessor Avram Grant was sacked despite taking the club to their first Champions League final and finishing just two points behind Manchester United in the Premiership.

Scolari's Chelsea make their debut against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical here and face Chengdu Blades in Macau on Saturday before heading to Malaysia and Russia.


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