What now for Michael Essien?

Chelsea have omitted the Ghanaian midfielder from their Champions League squad, with the box-to-box midfielder’s future now hanging in the balance.

The sheer amount of players at Jose Mourinho’s disposal has meant that there were always going to be casualties in the squad. Some, such as Romelu Lukaku, have been sent out on loan, while others, such as Demba Ba, can expect long periods watching on from the sidelines.

But what of Michael Essien? The African midfielder played a significant role in Mourinho’s success in his first tenure in West London, but has suffered at the hands of longstanding injuries over recent seasons.

The Ghanaian is clearly a player that Mourinho favours, after the Portuguese trainer brought Essien to Real Madrid on loan last term. However, an exclusion from Chelsea’s Champions League squad suggests that Essien could well face a long and hard campaign out of favour.

Despite the strength in depth all over the Blues’ playing squad, defensive midfield is one area in which there is opportunity. Frank Lampard and Ramires are seemingly the preferred choices in the centre of the park, but both are susceptible to their natural instincts of getting forward.

Jon Obi Mikel is seemingly a player out of favour too, and as such there is a window there for Essien to stake a claim for inclusion in the team – especially away from home when the Blues are keen to shore things up.

If Essien could get back to any semblance of the form he displayed in Mourinho’s first stint in west London, he would have unique attributes in a star-studded squad that could help the team progress. His combativeness in the tackle became infamous after he moved to Stamford Bridge initially, while a relentless work rate also had him as one of the most-feared central midfielders in the land.

He typifies the description of box-to-box player when in his pomp, as he can get forward and offer support to attackers as well as provide protection and assurance to his side’s defence.

However, severe cruciate ligament injuries have the ability to end players’ careers, and it looks like Essien is now a shell of the player that lifted the Premier League crown with Chelsea in 2005-06.

His omission from the Champions League contingent suggest that he will only be a fringe player this season for Mourinho, and can expect to get run outs in domestic cup competitions rather than the biggest games. He can play at full-back at a push, but the Blues are well-stocked in these areas.

Given the ability of Essien in his prime, it is a shame to see his fall from grace due to injury. Premier League opponents will be relieved that the African’s powers have diminished however.

image: © sonyds

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch