Tiote went downhill and fast at Newcastle
Cheick Tiote was only four months into his debut season in English football and he was already plotting ways to emulate a two-time league champion.
Former Chelsea enforcer Michael Essien, in his mid-noughties heyday, is certainly the gold standard for powerful midfielders everywhere. Yet, despite Tiote's combative nature and under-rated quality in possession, it always appeared unlikely that he would be the driving force of a team figthing for the very top honours.
Nonetheless, there was an unavoidable similarity in their playing styles - even if Tiote did pick up a few more bookings.
Essien at his peak had everything
"I'm only young but to be compared to Michael Essien is quite a compliment," he said after joining from FC Twente in 2010, as reported by Sky Sports. "I've always watched Michael Essien as a role model in midfield and one day I hope to be as good as him - or even better!"
Seven years on, however, it's fair to say Tiote fell rather short. His influence waned by the season, to the point that, when finally permitted to leave for China in January, he was nothing more than a bit-part player.
However, in Torino midfielder Afriyie Acquah, Newcastle could stumble across the real deal. Ghana Soccernet claims The Magpies will offer £8 million for the Ghanaian despite interest from Torino's city rivals Juventus.
“Essien has inspired me a lot. During his days at Chelsea, I used to watch him and pick a lot from his game," Acquah said in quotes reported by Goal in 2014.
Describing the former Real Madrid and AC Milan star as his 'big brother' and a role model in the Ghana camp, Acquah is about as close to Essien as a modern midfielder can get - blessed with commendable work ethic, the stride of a bull and the penchant for the odd rocket shot.
Tiote, eat your heart out.
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