Monday, March 13, 2017


Is Michael Essien Really Going To Sign For Persib?

I must admit there are some stories coming out of Indonesia are so outlandish I don't dare pass them on for fear of ridicule, mostly from myself. Some of course I can't wait to. The story that Minangkabau, a team from the unlamented Liga Primer Indonesia, wanted Dennis Bergkamp just had to be told.

The recent pursuit of Ronaldinho by Persib I chose to ignore. It seems there were some talks but once Barcelona asked him to become a roving ambassador the idea the toothy Brazilian maestro would be plying his trade in the mountains of West Java soon receded.

Perhaps the story wasn't Ronaldinho. Perhaps it was Persib were actually looking to make a statement with a marquee signing, a path Indonesian clubs have been reluctant to go down in recent years.For whatever reason with the possible exceptions of Mario Kempes and Roger Milla to Pelita Jaya back in the 1990s clubs have tended to avoid the real big names, leaving that particular niche market to Thailand (Robbie Fowler) and Malaysia (Pablo Aimar).

Soon after the Ronaldinho link faded came more news Persib were keen on entering these unchartered waters. Names like Emmanuel Adebayor, Didier Drogba and Dimitar Berbatov cropped up. I have also seen Robbie Keane linked. Seriouly, I thought they were a wind up, part of a long running joke regarding Persib's search for a striker to ease the burden on Sergio van Dijk. But perhaps I was being too cynical? If any club has the clout to go after these types of players it is Persib.

The latest player to be linked with Persib is ex Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien. Reportedly he arrived in Jakarta over the weekend, has already taken a physical and is scheduled to head to Bandung tomorrow to be officially announced as a player ahead of the new season that starts in the middle of April.

The club are keeping quiet. Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman has been busy with the team as they defeated Semen Padang 1-0 in the President Cup 3/4 place play off on Saturday and last night he was busy watching the final between Pusamania and Arema (1-5). seems to know nothing about his potential new recruit. Manager Umuh  Muchtar has also been strangely reticent about any potential deal with the one time Ghana international, asking reporters to be patient.

There may of course be  nothing in this. Essien may be heading to Bandung because he wants to buy some brownies and wants to check out the factory outlets. Alternatively this story may have legs. In which case it would be a bold statement for Persib. Not domestically. They could field 11 mannequins in a shop window wearing blue shiirts and fans would travel for hours to see them. But Persib potentially are one of the biggest clubs in South East Asia. They are one of the few Indonesian clubs who recognise the potential the rest of Asia offers. Signing Essien would be step towards raising awareness of the club in the region.

But why Essien? Persib already have two tough tackling midfielders in Kim Jeffry Kurniawan and Hariono who know Indonesian clubs inside out. I have heard of some clubs here looking for a high profile signing to act as much as an ambassador for the team as well as a player. Maybe that is how they see Essien?

Who knows. In the past Essien has been linked with Muang Thong United and Melbourne Victory. After rejecting offers from those two clubs it would certainly a coup indeed were he to accept the advances of Persib.

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