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28.07.2005 Sports News

Houllier keeps Essien out of the headlines

Raymond Yeboah

Essien was dropped from the Lyon squad for the Champions Trophy clash, as reports claim Chelsea are closing on the midfielder's signature.

The Ghana international is desperate to join the Premiership champions and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon is rumoured to be in France for further talks.

Chelsea will purportedly make a new bid of £25 million for Essien, despite Lyon holding firm on their £30 million valuation of the African.

But, speaking after the 4-1 thrashing of Auxerre, Lyon coach Houllier refused to discuss the Essien situation at great length.

"I think it is very, very unfair to mention that case now, as it will take the focus and the credit out of my players," Houllier told media that,

John Carew, who scored a hat-trick against Auxerre, concedes Essien's future with the French champions hangs in the balance.

When asked about whether Essien would stay at Stade Gerland, the Norway international replied: "I think it's 50/50."

Meanwhile, Kenyon has revealed that Chelsea do not intend to continually chase football's biggest names, as the club want to construct a squad capable of being on the scene for several seasons.

Kenyon told Chelsea TV: "I know continuity is important and one of the big benefits at Manchester United was that they had a core group which had been part of that success for most of the time.

"Consciously, we've said we would like it to be English-based and we want them to be young because if you're talking about dominating for the next five to 10 years, you can't dominate and then change eight players every season.

"We've seen how difficult it is even for world-class players coming in and needing time to adjust but once you've got them, you need to know that you can maintain it.

"To win, you have to have your best team and your best squad. What comes with that is less change and less rotation