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Soccer News of Friday, 5 August 2005

Source: Ghana Celebrities

Essien threatens Lyon strike to force Chelsea

LONDON (AFP) - Michael Essien has told Lyon he will not play for them again as he tries to force the French champions to allow him to move to Chelsea.

Lyon have rejected a 32 million euro (21 million pound) Chelsea bid, and Essien has taken drastic action in a bid to force the club's hand before the end of the transfer window on August 31.

"From now on I am playing with the junior players and I will not take part in any first-team matches for them," the 22-year-old Ghana international midfielder told the Daily Mirror.

"I feel very let down by Lyon. I cannot understand why they've acted this way."

In one of the summer's longest-running transfer sagas, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has taken an uncompromising stance in the face of prolonged Chelsea interest.

The French club are holding out for 45 million euros (32 million pounds) -- the amount Chelsea bid for Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard -- as well as a player in exchange for the midfielder who still has three years on his contract.

Aulas said: "Michael is considered by coach Gerard Houllier at the same level or perhaps even better than Steven Gerrard at a younger age.

"As long as the offer does not correspond to the price, there will be no sale."

Essien has missed Lyon's first two matches of the season, and has already voiced his desire to move to Stamford Bridge.

The continued refusal of Lyon to agree a fee with Chelsea has frustrated Essien, and he made his feelings clear.

"The club know I want to leave and I have kept them informed at every stage - but they are behaving very badly over this," added Essien.

"I have made it clear to them I will not play for them again.

"I have heard the Lyon president saying other clubs from the Premiership are interested in buying me - including Arsenal and Manchester United - but I've no desire to play for anyone else but Chelsea.

"I will not go to another club, even Real Madrid. Chelsea want me and I want to play for them, that is why I am so disappointed with the situation.

"They are telling me one thing and doing another and that is not healthy for me, the manager of Lyon or the rest of the squad. The sooner Lyon resolve this, the better."

Just how determined Essien is will be seen when Lyon play their next match at home to Strasbourg on Sunday.