By Patrick Akoto
Ghana star Michael Essien has been assured by Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo that he remains part of the clubâ€™s future plans. Â
The Italian manager was rewarded with a two-year deal after he guided the Blues to their first Uefa Champions League title after edging out Bayern Munich at their own turf last month.
The 29-year-old former Lyon man was unused largely last season, after he returned from a third career threatening injury.
It was hugely speculated in the English media that the box-to-box midfielder was on the verge of being offloaded after Ivorian duo Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou left the club.
But Chelsea moved quickly to dispel the speculations insisting the Ghanaian super star was still part of their plans next season.
Matheo, 42, says he wonâ€™t make any massive changes to the squad as he attempts to challenge the two Manchester clubs next term.
â€œWe certainly want to do better in the League. Last season was a difficult one and we want to bridge the gap between us and the two Manchester team,â€ Matheo said
"Our aim is to continue building on that and I'm already looking forward to the squad's return for pre-season.
â€œNow the work starts, I have to start planning for pre-season. Weâ€™ve lost few players who are out of contract and weâ€™ve already signed a couple of players, so there will be a slight change.
â€œBut there wonâ€™t be a complete overhaul of the squad. We will try to make the right signings for the functionality of the squad,â€
Essien will need to work his socks to impress the manager who preferred Mikle Obi, Ramires and Frank Lampard as his first-choice midfield trio during his short stint last season.