Victory had all but agreed to personal terms with the Ghanaian international after Football Federation Australia last week agreed to support the A-League club’s bid to sign the 33-year-old under the competition’s new guest marquee rule.
But despite enjoying positive talks, Essien performed a U-turn, informing the club he would not take up a deal that would have netted him in the realm of $1m for the upcoming season.
The midfielder, who played 256 games for Chelsea, has most recently endured an injury-ravaged 12-month stint at Greek club Panathinaikos that ended far from harmoniously.
Legal implications stemming from that breakup — where fees owing to Essien were not paid for some time — complicated his negotiations with Victory.
All parties were of the belief the Essien-to-Australia deal would go through, with plans afoot for him to travel to Melbourne to conduct a medical assessment, but doubt crept in earlier this week as negotiations dragged on without resolution.
Essien’s signing would have been a timely boost for an A-League crying out for big name recruits.
Victory’s cross-town rival Melbourne City last month signed Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, but having one of his former English Premier Leaguerivals playing in the same town would have complimented that signing nicely.
It is the second time Victory has been rebuffed in its attempts to secure a big name foreigner this off-season, with FFA knocking back the club’s bid to sign Italian Alessandro Diamanti as a guest marquee last month.
It means Victory still has a foreign spot to fill for the upcoming season should it wish to do so.
Source: Herald Sun');