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Chelsea's Essien lured by La Liga but Sturridge set to sign

CHELSEA&rsquo;S ambitious summer rebuilding plans were dealt another blow yesterday when it emerged midfielder Michael Essien is considering leaving Stamford Bridge.<br /><br />The Blues have already received high-profile snubs in the transfer market this month, with top targets preferring to join Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Essien, a key part of Chelsea&rsquo;s first team, is said to be keen to join them, with his agent Fabian Piveteau admitting the Ghanaian feels the lure of La Liga.<br /><br />&ldquo;Some clubs are interested in Michael,&rdquo; said Piveteau. &ldquo;He likes Chelsea very much, but football is football and if Real Madrid, Barcelona or some other club make an offer he needs to sit down and discuss what is best for him.&rdquo;<br /><br />Chelsea are unlikely to entertain bids for the muscular former Lyon player, who cost them &pound;24.5m when he joined in the summer of 2005. But his public interest in a switch is a blow as the club attempt to improve on last season&rsquo;s third-place finish in the Premier League.<br /><br />AC Milan star Kaka rejected interest from Stamford Bridge to join Real, while Valencia striker David Villa has also made clear his preference to stay in Spain. The snubs prompted coach Ray Wilkins to accuse some foreign players of &ldquo;taking the softer option&rdquo;.<br /><br />One player who looks set to arrive at Chelsea, however, is Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge. The 19-year-old is out of contract this summer and the Blues have reportedly won the race to sign him. <br /><br />Sturridge is not old enough to be eligible for a free transfer, so any fee is likely to be decided by tribunal. Chelsea are thought to have offered &pound;3m, while City want nearer &pound;10m.<br /><br />Blues winger Florent Malouda, meanwhile, has signed a contract extension that will keep him in west London until 2013.