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Is there space at the Bridge for Michael Essien?

One of nine players aged 30 or over in the Chelsea side, Essien may well find himself on the transfer list come June-time, along with a host of the others, the likes of Hilario, Ferreira, Benayoun and Meireles are out of favour and have just the one start between them this season. It certainly seems like this will be the summer that the older players get shown the door.

However, is it possible that Essien still has a future at the club? At just 30, and with 18 appearances for Real Madrid this season, its still quite possible. He has certainly shown he can still play at the top level of the game still.

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One of eight players aged 30 or over in the Chelsea side, Essien may well find himself on the transfer list come June-time, along with a host of the others, the likes of Hilario, Ferreira, Benayoun are out of favour and have just the one start between them this season. It certainly seems like this will be the summer that the older players get shown the door.

However, is it possible that Essien still has a future at the club? At just 30, and with 18 appearances for Real Madrid this season, its still quite possible. He has certainly shown he can still play at the top level of the game still.

Rumours circulate daily about Lampard’s future, and at 34, you begin to understand why, especially with the high wage demands, and the likes of Romeu sitting on the sidelines. You have to feel that Abramovich isn’t the slightest bit bothered about him breaking Bobby Tambling’s record, unless he is genuinely waiting to see if he can break it this season to avoid offering him a contract.

Like i’ve said before, I don’t believe giving a player a contract, based on them reaching a personal goal, or at least something which won’t help the team. Does he want to offer him a month-by-month contract at the start of the 2013/14 season until it is broken? I do think this should’ve been sorted way before now, to stop these kinds of questions being banded around.

Should Lampard leave,then Essien would remain the sole over 26 in midfield, and the big question there is, can Chelsea run smoothly with such a young midfield over the course of the next year or so, have the likes of Mikel and Ramires, finished their nurturing process?

I will shortly start the top five countdown of our players this season, and but I’ll let you into a secret now, Mikel isn’t in there. In fact, he is way down on the list. Should Lamps, Meireles, and Essien leave this summer, can Mikel/Ramires/Romeu form a strong enough season between them?

Lampard has often been employed in this role this season, and I must say I don’t think it’s his best position. As I talked about a few articles ago, I think his greediness has cost us this year, but this is partly down to the fact he has played out of his best position. In Michael Essien, we have a man suited to that Defensive Midfield position, and a natural replacement or indeed starter in that role for the next season or two.

Essien has managed the second best pass rate in the Real Madrid team this season, at 87.2%, just 0.2% behind the leader Modric, on players that have played over 10 games this season. The holding midfielder’s job in one that relies on ball retention, and that is signified as Ramires (85.5%) and Mikel (88.9%) have outshone Lampard (81.9%) this year.

Now, this isn’t an article designed to give Lampard the boot, it is simply that I don’t believe Abramovich is playing on keeping many Over 30’s after this season, so given the choice, I would take Essien over Lampard, mainly for the experience and guile needed in the DM position.

A lot depends on what happens with the defence too. Is John Terry around long-term? Will a new centre-back be brought in? If so, then David Luiz may well become that third DM that we need, however, I think Luiz is simply too good a player to be benched, along with Ramires, meaning Mikel would have to be ‘frozen-out’ as such, which at 26 is not what we need to do with him.

Essien is the perfect man to sit there for me. With 18 appearances at Madrid this season, we will be able to offer him at least this, with Lampard picking up 25 from a similar position. This transition period we are plodding on through currently requires nurture of these young stars, and with the likes of Romeu coming through fast, I think a man like Michael Essien is needed at the club, and that’s why I think he deserves a future at the club, at least for another season or two.  

By Brad Smith

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