Michael Essien says he would have “loved” to join Man Utd but Didier Drogba and Jose Mourinho convinced him to join Chelsea.
The former Ghana international spent nine years at Stamford Bridge after signing from Lyon in 2005 for a reported fee of £24.4m.
Essien won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a League Cup and a Champions League during his time at Chelsea.
However, Essien has revealed it could have all been different if Drogba and Mourinho hadn’t teamed up to persuade him to reject Man Utd and sign for the Londoners.
“My second year at Lyon, when we finished the season, I came back to start pre-season with them and I came back very happy to start pre-season. That’s when the other teams started coming in like Chelsea and Manchester United,” Essien told South African reporter Carol Tshabalala.
“At that point I’d have loved to have joined United. But I was speaking with Jose every other day and he made it clear, very straight to me, that he wanted me to join Chelsea and there was only Chelsea that could pay the transfer fee at that time.
“It was not easy but I remember the first time I spoke to Jose. I went to Malouda’s house for a barbeque and then during the barbeque Drogba called him and he and Drogba started speaking because they are very close and then Drogba asked him, ‘When you see Michael, whenever you see him, can you tell him Jose wants his number, Jose wants to talk to him?’ but then he said, ‘No, Michael is here, we’re having a barbeque!’.
“So he gave the phone to me and I started speaking to Drogba and that’s how we started. I passed on my number to him and he passed it on to Jose and that’s when everything started. It was a tough transfer saga.”