Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has revealed he came close to signing for Liverpool and PSG at separate times, before ultimately joining the Blues in 2005.
After starting with Ghanaian side Liberty Professionals, Essien joined French side Bastia, where he had his big breakthrough.
His fine performances in Ligue 1 attracted the interest of a host of top European clubs, including Liverpool, Paris Saint Germain (PSG), Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais.
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“I had lot of offers [when I was at Bastia]. I was close to signing for Liverpool when Gerard Houllier was their coach,” Essien, who also once had a trial stint with Manchester United, said in an interview on Instagram Live.
”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 et al, but I told Bastia I didn’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.
"So I stayed for another season, that’s my third year with the club.
"Lyon joined the three aforementioned clubs to enquire about me but I thought it was too early to move to England. That was why I joined Lyon and later moved to Chelsea under Mourinho [in 2005].
“Lyon were my favourite team when I went to France because they were winning everything. I told my agent that if Lyon have come into the picture I’d like to join them."
After three years at Bastia, Essien joined Lyon in 2003 and would go on to win Ligue 1 in 2004 and 2005.
"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 national television that I had signed for PSG, which I had not because I was still in Ghana," Essien continued.
”There were a lot of controversies going on between the board and my agent so when I went back to Bastia, we met with the board members and the president, and I told them I’d prefer to join Lyon although 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 holidays in Ghana, I’ll do everything to sign for them but It was not easy."
In 2005, Essien joined Chelsea after a long transfer saga. He won the Champions League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies, the League Cup and the Community Shield while with the Blues.
Currently on the books of Azerbaijani side Sabail, the 37-year-old has also played for Milan, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Persib Bandung of Indonesia.