Essien hints at Premiership future
REDS transfer target Michael Essien admits he has no regrets about his earlier move to Old Trafford falling through - but has given the strongest indication yet he sees his future in the Premiership.
The Ghanaian midfield star is one of the most coveted young players in Europe, and sits highly on United's list of targets for next season.
But the 22-year-old could already have been a part of the United team, had red tape not intervened.
He was invited to a trial with United in the summer of 2000, after his performances in the Under-17 World Cup - but did not qualify for a work permit to stay at the club.
"It was a good trial," Essien told FourFourTwo magazine.
"I think I did well. I don't hink I had the level to play there at that time, but Sir Alex Ferguson said I had played well.
"I liked him. He's a very good coach."
United wanted to send Essien to Royal Antwerp, their nursery club in Belgium, until he was able to qualify for a work permit but, Essien admits, his mother and his agent prevented that from happening.
"My agent said no and my mum told me to listen to my agent, so that's what I did."
Now the player, currently at Lyon, could be set to return to United as Ferguson looks to strengthen his much-maligned midfield for next year.
And having already starred for his current club against his suitors, when United beat Lyon 2-1 earlier this season, he admits the prospect of a move to Old Trafford appeals.
"It was wonderful to play at Old Trafford," he told the magazine.
"They are one of the biggest clubs in Europe so of coure I was happy to play there. But no, I wasn't thinking about my future during the game.
"I get on the pitch and only think about football.
"In England the game is based on physical strength and that's what I like.
"I think I can adept well. I think I have the qualities to player there and I already speak the language. It will be easier for me than when I arrived in France.
"I'll be happy in England."