Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  

Roman's Med yacht summit

Chelsea edged closer to signing Ghana midfielder Michael Essien when Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said Friday he would meet the English champions' owner Roman Abramovich next week.

"Mr Aulas has agreed to meet Roman Abramovich at the neginning of next week in the south of France," a club statement said.

It was thought the meeting might take place on the Russian oil billionaire's yacht at Monte Carlo.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon met Lyon general manager Marino Faccioli on Thursday to make another improved bid which was turned down.

Chelsea's last disclosed bid was for 32 million euros (22 million pounds) but Aulas said Wednesday he wanted 45 million euros (32 million pounds) plus a player, thought to be Portugal midfielder Tiago.

Lyon coach Gerard Houllier said he was unsure whether to play Essien in the season-opening match against newly-promoted Le Mans on Sunday.

Essien had already refused to play in the Champions Trophy match against Cup winners Auxerre on Wednesday.