Former Portugal international and Chelsea star Thiago has revealed that Michael Essien’s arrival at the London club forced his departure.
Thiago had joined Chelsea in 2004, a year earlier before Michael Essien, but with the millions of pounds dolled out to sign the Ghanaian, the Portuguese realized his playing time was going to be limited.
He decided to move to France to join Olympique Lyon, where Essien was coming from.
“I do the whole pre-season, we still played in the Super Cup, which we won, but Chelsea are trying to sign Essien and they manage to sign him from Lyon. I still train with Essien at Chelsea, but there was Gérard Houllier, who was Lyon’s coach, calling me all the time. That he wanted me and I was going to be an important player, I would always play, which was something that at Chelsea didn’t happen,” he told Tribuna Expresso.
“On top of that, with the arrival of Essien, a player that at that time cost many millions, I imagined Lampard, Essien and Makélélé, there was not much to move [laughs]. Obviously I would have my minutes, for the important player I had been the year before, but it’d be very difficult to be an undisputed starter in that team.
“And the option comes from Lyon, four-time French champion, a team that plays in the Champions League, where I can start, where the coach wants me so much that he called me all the time, every day … I make the decision to go.”
“Mourinho didn’t want it. He knows everything that is happening, because Jorge was his manager too, so he’s certainly aware of everything and comes to a point when he calls me and says that I’ll be an important player, that I’d be the first option for any of the three midfield positions, either of Makélélé, or of Essien, or of Lampard, so I don’t go. I said I was going to think, but by then I had the decision made.”
“I was feeling important [laughs]. It’s a player’s desire to feel important, to play. At that age I wanted to play, a player always thinks he deserves more than what he has and I can’t help saying that Lyon paid me more money than Chelsea. I thought everything was perfect and so I decided to go.”