13.03.2005 Sports News

Essien ideal for Man Utd -Congo coach

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French coach Claude Le Roy has backed Manchester United's pursuit of Lyon's Ghanaian midfield ace Mickael Essien.

Le Roy is now coach of Congo and told the Manchester Evening News: "I think Michael Essien is now the best in the world in his position.

"On March 26, Congo play Ghana in a World Cup qualifier. I am currently working on tactics to stop him, and I can tell you it is a monster task!

"I think he is one of the most powerful players in the world now."

Essien moved to Lyon from Bastia last summer and Le Roy added: "I was very impressed with him at Bastia and saw him a lot of times.

"But his improvement in the last 10 months has been absolutely unbelievable. Game after game, he has improved. He is technically very comfortable and physically he is extremely strong. He is the perfect modern player.

"There is a good balance in his game. Tactically as a defensive midfielder, he has improved so much.

"And now he has added great improvement in the last 10 yards in front of goal and that's why you are now seeing him on the scoresheet.

"His game used to be a bit frenetic, but now he keeps his cool and puts his foot on the ball. He's the kind of player every top coach and top club would want. I think he would suit Manchester United perfectly.

"United need powerful players and Essien is exactly that. They are also a technically good attacking side and he has that in his game now.

"Physically, the Premiership wouldn't bother him at all. He doesn't have the maturity of a Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira yet, but with the tremendous improvements he is making, we will be talking about him as a Keane or Vieira next year.

"He is a clever and intelligent player and one of his other major assets is that he is fluent in English, so communication at United wouldn't be a problem for him at all. He'd be a great guy to have in the dressing room and a phenomenal asset on the field.

"I know you have to be special to cope with the pressures at Old Trafford but Michael has shown that he can contend with something like that at Lyon, where they are expected to be French champions every year. It hasn't been a problem to him.

"All the top clubs will be after him, but Manchester United would be a great move for the player and the club."

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