To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Michael Essien.
Club: Real Madrid (Spain)
Appearances: 34 (2 goals)
We didn’t cover Michael Essien during the course of the season in the weekly Loan Report, primarily because he’s the rare example of a player shipped out because he wasn’t wanted, not because he’s young and in need of development. Nonetheless, he remains a Chelsea player and to that end, he warrants a discussion of the last twelve months and the future to come.
Playing for his ‘daddy’ Jose Mourinho in Madrid was arguably the best thing that could have happened to the former Ghanaian international. Though he struggles for mobility these days after some serious injuries, he still remains as strong as an ox and as savvy as he’s long since been, and has proved himself useful to The Special One as a rotation option in a squad which has played many games.
He was used at right-back just as often as he was in midfield, and even saw time at left-back in an emergency, but wherever he played he was solid. At right-back he was an industrious presence who added size and discipline to the defensive unit, and having been entrusted with starts in big matches against Barcelona, had no problems asserting himself against a familiar foe in Lionel Messi.
He offered pretty much what we would have expected him to at this stage of his career, and proved a useful and viable asset to a team competing for multiple honours.
Essien returns to Stamford Bridge with an uncertain future, but with Chelsea’s problems in the defensive/central midfield area in 2012-13, he could certainly have contributed and, given the right circumstances going forward, could still do. Given Mourinho’s imminent return to the club and his inherent trust in the Ghanaian, he could very much be called upon to perform a versatile squad role, and he’s shown this past season that whilst he’s not what he once was, he can still do a job.