Chelsea have confirmed that midfielder Michael Essien has left the club for AC Milan.
The Ghanaian international spent eight-and-a-half years with the Blues, joining from Lyon in 2005 and spending a season on loan at Real Madrid in 2012/13.
Having arrived at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho’s first spell with the club, the 31-year-old would go on to win two Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, one League Cup and one Champions League trophy.
Despite falling down the pecking order in west London in recent times, he remained a popular figure at the club, and ‘the Special One’ admits it was tough to let the player go - but the right thing to do.
“To show Michael respect is to not stop him going. We would have been happy had he stayed because he is fantastic player for the team, but he's given everything for the club and a great chance arrived for his future,” Mourinho told the official Chelsea website.
“I know he can continue to play at a high level and I wish him success and happiness in Italy and at the World Cup in Brazil.”
Essien is the second high-profile player to leave Chelsea in recent days, after Juan Mata’s exit was confirmed on Saturday.
The Blues have added one new name to the squad though, with versatile Egyptian international Mohamad Salah signing a five-and-a-half year contract with the club yesterday (Sunday).