Lyon have confirmed they intend to retain their in-demand players such as Michael Essien, Mahamadou Diarra and Juninho.

The midfield trio have all been linked with big-money moves to England with Essien strongly tipped to join Chelsea.

However, Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas says he expects to secure the futures of the trio over the next week or so.

“The first good signing is keeping our best players,” Aulas told L’Equipe.

“With Djila, Michael and Juni, we have being trying to settle their cases for some weeks.

“I don’t think Juninho wants to leave. I have good reasons to think we will find an agreement with us when he comes back from his holidays.

“About Diarra – the talks are harsh, especially as an Italian club [believed to be Internazionale] is doing its best [to sign him]. But we are very close to a two-year extension.

“About Essien, we have found an agreement with his agent. We just have to find an agreement with Michael.”

Essien has confirmed that he would be willing to remain at Lyon for one more season.

“I am not ready to start strong-arm tactics, I can remain one more year here,” Essien told Foot Transferts.

“But, after that, I would have to exit the club in June 2006.”