Michael Essien linked with switch to Persib rivals

Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been linked with a surprise move to Persipura Jayapura after failing to report to pre-season training with Persib Bandung. The Ghanaian's present deal only expires at the end of the year, but the club have the option of extending the contract by an additional year.

Speaking to BolaSport.com, Persib manager Mario Gomez admitted that the club have not heard from the Champions League winner, though he has been spotted training at Chelsea's Cobham training ground, he said: "I did not hear from him, he did not come to practice. But I know he went to London."

Meanwhile, Persib director Teddy Tjahjono appeared to ward off any rumours of an exit by stressing that Essien will return to the club, once he completes his rehabilitation on an injury, he told CNN Indonesia: "[Essien] is still recovering [injury] in London and next week plans to return [to Bandung]."

Essien joined Persib during the inaugural edition of the Liga 1 last term, and he was influential at the heart of their midfield as he helped them to a 13th place finish out of 18 teams. During this period, he notched five goals, and his performances have been sufficient to attract rival interest.

Despite suffering numerous niggles in the backend of his playing career, he has proved a massive draw for attracting fans in the Indonesian Liga 1. In addition to his record-league wages, the Ghanaian has also been named as the ambassador for German sportswear brand Adidas, and this has assured him of a good payday in the Far East.

Essien has spoken fondly about the fans during his 11-month stint in Indonesia, but there is still the expectation that he may return to hometown club Liberty Professionals before call time on a highly successful career, which has included spells with the likes Chelsea, Real Madrid, and AC Milan.