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Former Chelsea and Ghana ace Michael Essien signed to improve football in Indonesia, to attract top stars

Published on: 15 March 2017
Michael Essien wearing Persib Bandung colours on Tuesday

Indonesian giants Persib Bandung say they signed former Chelsea and Ghana midfielder Michael Essien to improve the game in the country and attract the world's top players to their league.

The 34-year-old joined the club on Tuesday after signing a one-year deal with the option of an extension.

The midfielder has been a free agent since leaving Greek club Panathinaikos at the end of last season.

The Indonesians says they are using the arrival of the top Ghanaian player to boost the game in their country and to bring in other top star players.

Teddy Tjahyono, part of the Persib Bandung management, said: "The reason to bring Michael Essien is in order to increase the value of competition in Indonesia."

He added: "Opening the door to the other world players to strengthen the team in Indonesia.

"The process to bring in players to this part of the world is quite difficult. It took months to negotiate."

Essien, who has also played for Real Madrid and AC Milan, is the highest profile signing for Indonesian football since Cameroon World Cup hero Roger Milla and Argentine World Cup winner Mario Kempes played in the country in the 1990s.

Essien told the club's website: "Thank you for bringing me here. I'm excited and want to give my best."

He won the Champions League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cups during nine seasons at Chelsea.

Essien also played at two World Cups for Ghana, who he represented 58 times, before retiring in the wake of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

Based in Bandung in West Java, Persib are one of the best supported clubs in Indonesia and finished third in the recently completed President's Cup.

The start date for the new league season in Indonesia has yet to be announced.

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