Chelsea midfielder offered new Serie A exit option

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Chelsea are braced for a bid from Napoli for midfield veteran Michael Essien after turning down an approach from the Serie A giants Jon Obi Mikel earlier this week, according to The Sun.

Napoli boss Rafael Benitez reportedly instructed club officials to check on Mikel's availability after learning that the Blues were planning to sign Nemanja Matic, a deal that went through last night for a fee of £20m.

Mikel is still viewed as Blues boss Jose Mourinho as important to his plans so that initial enquiry was knocked back, but Benitez has not given hope of raiding his former club and now wants Essien on a short-term deal.

Essien is out of contract this summer and has been consistently linked with a move away from Chelsea this month, with Serie A giants AC Milan the most prominent club mentioned in connection with a loan move.

Milan now have competition from Napoli though, with Benitez hoping to persuade the Ghanaian enforcer that he can earn the regular game time he so desperately craves at the San Paolo Stadium.

Mourinho is likely to sanction Essien's exit if he finds a suitable club, with the midfielder starting just one Premier League start so far this season.

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