Several Lyon players have admmitted they are sad to see Michael Essien go to Chelsea but accept the Ghanaian midfielder needs a new challenge.

“It’s sad to see him go, but for him it’s extraordinary and we all wish him good luck,” said defender Sylvain Monsoreau.

Lyon have resisted several offers for Essien during the close-season but they acknowledged over the weekend that the player was set for a move to the Premiership champions.

Essien’s departure has been greeted with sadness by his team-mates.

“Lyon existed before Michael Essien and will exist after him but it’s true that we’re losing a fantastic player,” said defender Anthony Reveillere.

“It’s his choice to leave and you have to respect that.”

With Essien’s departure imminent, Lyon will now focus upon trying to persuade Brazil midfielder Juninho to extend his contract.

“We will do what we have to make him (Juninho) stay,” said Aulas. “We need him.