Ancelotti spent close to eight seasons at the San Siro after his appointment in November 2001, winning Serie A in 2004 and two Champions League titles in 2003 and 2007.
The Italian then moved on to Chelsea in the summer of 2009, where he managed Essien for the next two seasons before being sacked at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, despite winning both the Premier League and FA Cup just 12 months earlier.
Having joined Milan on a free transfer last winter, Essien saw Inzaghi replace the outgoing Clarence Seedorf in June and, after a solid start to the season, the Ghanaian international recognises clear similarities between the two club legends.
‘I really like Inzaghi as a coach,’ he told Sky Sports Italia. ‘He gives us the freedom to go out on the field and express ourselves. This is why we’re giving our best.
‘I’ve had a lot of coaches in my career, and Inzaghi reminds me a little of Ancelotti, who coached me at Chelsea.
‘He also gave us the freedom to express ourselves on the field, and that’s what Pippo does. I think it’s the right way to do things.’
After a disappointing eight-place league finish last season, Essien now believes that the club can earn a Champions League spot this term with Inzaghi at the helm.
‘Last season was difficult for us, but now everything is different and things are much better,’ he said.
‘We need to take Milan back to the top. Our aim is to finish in the top three, and we will fight to achieve this goal.’