Michael Essien is still only thirty. He seems older; maybe because the prime of his career seemed to come and go fairly quickly, or because injuries have associated him with frailty.
Heâ€™s not done though, and as and when his loan deal expires at Real Madrid, nobody should be in any hurry to usher him back through the door. He wonâ€™t be, of course, given how Jose Mourinho values him, but that doesnâ€™t mean that heâ€™ll be staying at Stamford Bridge on a charitable basis â€“ he can contribute next season.
Those who keep abreast of Spanish football will have seen plenty of the Ghanaian this year, and will have watched Mourinho rotate the player through a variety of roles â€“ left full-back, right full-back, and a defensive midfield â€“ and has started him in eighteen games.
That says quite a lot. The principal concern with Essien for the last few years has been over his durability, or lack of it, but while La Liga isnâ€™t anything like as attritional or physical as the Premier League, his continued participation this year is the symptom of him now being injury-free.
No, heâ€™s not as robust in the tackle as he once was, and neither does he get from one penalty box to the other with the same metronomic regularity, but he is still a very accomplished footballer.
With regards to Chelsea, the point is this: he would be very useful to have around. He may not be an automatic starter at Stamford Bridge, but he would be capable of performing very capably in defensive midfield â€“ or in other positions â€“ should he be required to do so.
Like Mourinho, and like Frank Lampard and John Terry, Essien is synonymous with Chelseaâ€™s most successful period, and having players like that in and around a dressing-room is never to the detriment of a squad, especially one with as many younger players as the club now have.