The only deal of note from Stamford Bridge on transfer deadline day was the west London club’s decision to loan out Michael Essien to Real Madrid. The Ghanaian midfielder has suffered from injuries over the last 24 months that have seen a lack of regular action and a dip in form. However, will the African battler’s switch to the Santiago Bernabeu be good or bad for the player?
Essien moved to the Blues back in 2005 from Lyon and quickly impressed with his boundless energy, ability to win back possession and even a rocket of a long range shot on occasion. When at his best Essien was certainly recognised as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the division and played a major role in the side’s triumphs in the mid-to-late 2000’s.
Unfortunately for Essien and Chelsea, the player has suffered a number of long-term and serious injuries, with cruciate ligament ailments keeping him on the sidelines for prolonged periods of time. Last season Essien was a virtual non-feature in the Blues side that lifted a memorable Champions League and FA Cup double, and as such is now viewed as a back-up player rather than an automatic starter by Roberto Di Matteo.
Jose Mourinho brought Essien to England and it appears that the Portuguese trainer will now be charged with restoring the player to his former imperious self. A season abroad surely will be good for the Ghanaian, who will look forward to training and playing alongside some of the best players on the planet, and he will hope to regain sharpness, both physically and mentally, in the Spanish capital. The chance to play for the La Liga champions will be one that he will relish, and a change of scenery may well give Essien the shot in the arm he needs to return to his best.
However, one can’t help but think that Essien’s opportunities to play in the Madrid first team are going to be limited. With the likes of Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Kaka and now Luka Modric all challenging for a place in Los Blancos’ central midfield, Essien could well find himself used less sparingly than what he would have been at Chelsea. Lassana Diarra has left the club to join Anzhi Makhachkala, but even still Essien will need to return to the form of his early Chelsea days to stand a chance of holding down a regular place in Mourinho’s team.