For years the English Premiership and Spanish La Liga have been locked in fierce battle to proudly proclaim to own the greatest league in world football. Michael Essien is a footballer that has experience of both and may have saddened fans of the beautiful English game by revealing that he prefers playing in Spain.
The Ghanaian midfield engine has 163 Chelsea appearances to his name, spanning 7 seasons and 9 major trophies. This season however, Essien has found himself out of favour at Stamford Bridge, and has subsequently been shipped to sunnier climates in Madrid.
It was of course Essien’s former boss Jose Mourinho that acted as the midfielder’s saviour, taking the 30 year old on a season long loan to Real Madrid. In just 6 months, 23 appearances, (the majority of which have been played at right back,) Essien has seen enough to have a pop at his former grace land in favour of his current abode.
Essien was recorded as saying, "The English competition is very physical. From what I have seen so far in La Liga, teams want to play in a way that is based more on ball movement. This makes it more fun to play. In England some teams do not focus on playing, but more on the physical contact. That is where I see the big difference."
Considering that, at his peak, Essien himself was an immense bullish box to box power house his words, suggesting a preference for pretty football over physicality, may surprise some. They also act as another blow to the Premiership in a year, or more, that has seen England’s domestic game take a battering at the hands of the Spanish. Despite Chelsea’s unexpected triumph in last seasons Champions League, knocking Barcelona out along the way, it has been players of La Liga that have hogged all of the awards.
In the Ballon D’or the winner was only ever going to come from one of three players earning their trade inSpain, and many of the ‘team of the season’ lists failed to include any English Premiership players in them at all.
Next week Essien and Real Madrid will take on Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League. He will no doubt be looking to set the record straight, having lost to United on penalties during the 2008 all English final.
image: © sonyds