Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien could leave Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window, according to his agent.
Fabian Piveteau, who represents the former Ghana international, has revealed that a number of "major European clubs" have been notified of Essien’s potential availability – with his freedom to play in the Champions League a key attraction – and is keen for any deal to be finalized swiftly.
"[Essien] could leave Chelsea this winter," Piveteau told French radio station RMC. "Several major European clubs playing in the Champions League were informed and the situation should settle down within the next 10 days. You should know that Michael was not on the list of players who can play in the Champions League with Chelsea, so he is free to play in the competition with another club."
Piveteau also responded to reports that Essien could be set for a return to Ligue 1 with Bastia, the club at which he began his career, saying that only France’s top clubs could afford to sign the 31-year-old.
"A comeback at Bastia? We must stop with this," he said. "Michael plays at Chelsea, a big club. In Ligue 1 he could play only at Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon ... but Bastia, FC Sochaux – without disrespect, no. For them to support the salary of a Chelsea player, it is already impossible."
Essien has found himself peripheral to first-team affairs this season despite his close relationship with returning manager Jose Mourinho, with the midfielder having only started two league games so far.