Essien transfer saga update

Confusion reigns over the transfer of Lyon’s Michael Essien to Chelsea.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Roman Abramovich is meeting Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon president, on his yacht in Monte Carlo at this very moment:

Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, was last night holding talks with Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyons president, on the Russian billionaire’s yacht in Monte Carlo in an effort to conclude the transfer of midfielder Michael Essien.

Aulas flew from Lyons to Monaco having virtually conceded Essien, 22, was going to sign for Chelsea, who have had two bids for the player turned down, for less than his £32 million valuation. The president admitted that the last one — £21 million — was coming closer to an acceptable one.

Yet The Times (and The Independent) report that Abramovich has no intention of meeting with Aulas:

Roman Abramovich will not travel to Lyons to take charge of negotiations over Michael Essien’s transfer but Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, will return to France this week in a bid finally to resolve a saga that threatens to drag on into the new Barclays Premiership season.

The Independent also reports that Chelsea has dismissed the claim of Aulas that they face competition from Manchester United and Arsenal:

Chelsea yesterday dismissed the claim of the Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas that they face competition from Manchester United and Arsenal for the signature of Michael Essien and have indicated that owner Roman Abramovich has no intention of entering the negotiations for the Ghanaian midfielder.

What is clear is that Aulas will say practically anything in an apparent effort to encourage Chelsea to up their bid. But whatever he says, it probably won’t wash with Peter Kenyon who will secure Essien’s services for far less than the £32m valuation. It’s just a case of when.

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