Lyon admit defeat as Essien moves to Chelsea


English FA Premiership: Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas last night admitted Michael Essien will join Chelsea.

The deal is not yet complete, and it remains unclear whether a compromise has been reached on the fee, but Lyon have conceded defeat in their efforts to keep the 22-year-old Ghanaian midfielder.

"I've done all I can to keep Michael in the squad, without being able to persuade him," Aulas said. "I've done a lot of work on this project, I've spoken with other directors, staff and everyone's been pushing me to make this decision, to let him leave.

"I hope he does well, but not too well, because in my view the club he'll be playing for will have a good chance to win the Champions League."

Charlton striker Darren Bent was handed his first senior England call-up yesterday after Alan Smith turned down the chance of being selected - to play in a Manchester United reserves match.

Andrew Johnson was originally named in the 23-man squad for Wednesday's friendly against Denmark but pulled out on Saturday with a hamstring problem.

Eriksson then turned to Smith, only for the striker to insist that his lack of pre-season action would be better served by a full game for United's reserves on Tuesday night, rather than sitting on England's bench.

The football club formed by Manchester United fans disenchanted by Malcolm Glazer's takeover played their first competitive match on Saturday.

FC United compete in the Moore and Co construction solicitors league second division which is nine rungs below the Premiership. They got their campaign off to a flying start by beating Leek County School Old Boys 5-2 away after the kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes to allow the United fans to settle in the ground after they had watched the lunchtime game at Goodison Park in pubs.

Leek's record attendance before that match was 238 and they had an average gate of 70 last season. Such is FC United's fan base there was a crowd of 2,500 for Saturdays' game with gate receipts of £10,000 for the delighted home club.