Nicknamed "The Bison" by his fans at Chelsea he brings experience, temperament and a winning attitude but also a checkered injury history.
Michael Essien has joined us from Chelsea. I want to provide a review of what Mourinho probably thought he would bring to the line-up and introduce him to the community.
I would like to thank various Chelsea fans for their patience while I peppered them with questions about their former player for this piece, but in particular Stephen Schmidt of SB NATION's We Ain’t Got No History, for information on Michael Essien’s injury history.
The first of his qualities is versatility. Essien is a player who can double as a defender and as a midfielder. When he was presented at Chelsea in 2005 that was the quality that Mourinho (a coach that Essien referred to yesterday as a father-figure) particularly stressed. His positioning and tactical play are excellent.
The second is his team-oriented personality. Every Chelsea fan I spoke to in compiling this review agreed: he is a sound professional, who makes no fuss in the locker-room, and is a mature influence on his teams - club and country. Aitor Karanka, speaking today during the press conference prior to tomorrow's game against Granada, says the technical staff were fully in favour of his coming -
Essien is an interesting player and has the one hundred percent backing of the technical staff, all of whom know him from his time at Chelsea. The thing that most impressed me is what a great professional he is and I’m certain he’ll be a major signing for us this season.
He trained today and has already been called up for the game against Granada. He will wear Real Madrid's number 15.
Karanka also provides some information explaining the suddenness of the transfer: the club had not expected Lass Diarra to receive so good an offer from Anzhi. In Karanka's words: "An offer the player couldn't refuse."
The one concern about Essien is his physical condition. Here I'm quoting Stephen Schmidt, of We Ain't Got No History, who kindly provided some background on Essien's injury difficulties:
Most reports indicate it takes 18 months to fully recover from ACL [note: anterior cruciate ligament] surgery, and it's still only been about 14 since his last one. He may or may not ever be the type of player that he used to be, but it will probably be January or February before he's fully recovered from his last surgery. All in all, I think it's pretty hard to know what you'll be getting out of Essien now, as we just haven't really seen a whole lot of him since the injury.
Other qualities when healthy: Essien was a leading player in the team that won the league for the second time in a row in 2006 and again in 2010. He himself is a two-time holder of the French Championship with former club Olympique Lyonnais. He was the leading midfield maestro next to Frank Lampard during his early time at club.
He was also, for many years, Ghana’s most important and influential international, helping the team to get further than any other African team in 2006 (the team would go on to amaze at the 2010 world cup as well, in the absence of Essien, who was injured). He boasts an amazing shot from distance and while his position means he doesn’t score very regularly, some of his goals are ones for the highlight reel.
His most famous goal, of course, came against Barcelona in May of 2009 in the Champions League semi-final. A left-footed volley from distance (Essien is primarily right-footed) that was voted the goal of the year by fans. Chelsea were to lose the tie under controversial circumstances.
Should he be able to play and stay healthy, he will provide some excellent competition and/or backup for Sami Khedira. A player of considerable experience, he has won 4 championships and played in a Champions League final.
And finally, Essien is involved in a large number of charitable endeavours for children. Here is a link of him rapping with Didier Drogba – all funds for this single went to charity.