Essien joins Azerbaijan top flight

Former Ghana and Chelsea midfielder, Michael Essien has joined Azerbaijan top-tier side Sabail FK.

The 36-year-old has signed a deal until May 2020 and will assist the coaching staff of the club’s Under-19 side as part of his quest for a coaching badge.

Essien has been a free agent since ending his contract with Indonesian side Persib Bandung in March 2018.

This will be the midfielder’s eighth professional club.

Based in the capital Baku, Sabail was founded three years ago and finished seventh in the Azerbaijan league last season.

“I was here three weeks ago. Had a good chat with the club and they told me about the project. I thought about it, liked it and here we are,” Essien said after signing.

“It’s a different thing to what I have seen before. Looks interesting and exciting, so happy to be here,” Essien told Sabail’s website.

In a long and varied career, Essien also played for Real Madrid and AC Milan since leaving Liberty Professionals in Ghana in 1999.

The former Black Star started his European career at French club Bastia before joining rivals Lyon in 2003.

Essien also had a short stint at Greek club Panathinaikos in the 2015/16 season.

He won the Champions League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cups during nine seasons at Chelsea.

Essien also played at two World Cups for Ghana, who he represented 58 times, before retiring in the wake of the 2014 tournament in Brazil. –BBC

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