Essien career in balance after latest knee injury
Published 09/07/2011 | 05:00
chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has suffered a severe injury to his right knee during pre-season training.
The 28-year-old was last night undergoing a series of tests to the injury, which occurred on Thursday during the first full day of Chelsea's training programme under new manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Reports yesterday claimed he had suffered a torn cruciate ligament, which, if confirmed, would be the third serious knee ligament injury suffered by the Ghanaian in three years and would raise concerns that he might never regain full fitness again. The usual recovery period for such an injury is six months.
Essien tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in September 2008 and missed six months, returning in March the following year.
Then he tore the medial ligament in his left knee while training with Ghana before the African Cup of Nations in January 2010 and suffered complications following surgery.
The knee continued to swell up and the player underwent four operations in a fortnight before he was eventually ruled out for the rest of the season, missing the World Cup finals in South Africa.
He recovered last season and played 43 games in Chelsea's disappointing campaign, but he never seemed to play at full power.
At his peak, Essien is very much the complete midfielder: physically intimidating, relentlessly energetic, but also possessing a deft touch and a powerful shot from distance.
Essien has played 224 games for Chelsea since joining from Lyon for £24.4m in August 2005, and he was voted the club's player of the season in 2006-07.
Last summer he signed a two-year contract extension, worth £80,000 a week, that keeps him at Stamford Bridge until 2015.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have named Michael Emenalo, their former assistant first-team coach, as the club's new sporting director.
The 45-year-old -- who took over Ray Wilkins' coaching job when the former England midfielder left the club in November -- will oversee a scouting network and youth development programmes, as well as supporting new manager Villas-Boas.
Emenalo was a surprise choice to succeed Wilkins in November because of his lack of experience at the highest level.
A former Nigeria international, he was brought to the club in a scouting position in 2007 when Avram Grant was in charge.
Villas-Boas could find no place for him in his coaching set-up, though, and he has now been given the sporting director job. (© Independent News Service)