Lyon midfielder Michael Essien has told the French champions that he wants to leave the club and move to English champions Chelsea.

I want to leave,” Essien was quoted in today’s edition of French sports daily L’Equipe. “I want to play in England at Chelsea.

“I thought about it for a long time on holiday. For me, Lyon is over.”

Essien added that he will tell Lyon that he will not join the club’s trip to South Korea where they are due to compete in the Peace Cup.

Following Steven Gerrard’s decision to stay at Liverpool, Essien is now Chelsea’s top target for next season. However, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has repeatedly said that Essien is not for sale.

Chelsea have already had a bid of 23 million euros (£16million) rejected by Lyon. “It’s not a question of price but of principle,” Aulas said yesterday.