Michael Essien Joins Real Madrid On Loan

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has left Stamford Bridge on loan, which didn't come as much of a surprise. His destination does, however -- he's reuniting with former manage Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, apparently to replace the departed Lassana Diarra, who's left for Anzhi Makhachkala.

The 29-year-old, who spent six seasons with the Blues, suffered a series of knee injuries that derailed his career and dramatically reduced his effectiveness, and it's far from clear whether he can still perform at the top level. But it's fascinating that Real Madrid, who have three world-class central midfielders, are willing to take a chance on the Ghanaian while Chelsea, who have zero, are not.

It's a bit of a strange one from both sides, but you have the sneaking suspicion that the Londoners could regret shipping him off just to save a few million pounds in wages. It's not the end most would have expected for the Bison at Chelsea -- before the injuries he was widely considered the Blues' top player and one of the most influential midfielders in the world. Now he's a backup backup man at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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