The most drawn-out transfer saga of the summer reached its conclusion with Lyon’s Ghanaian midfielder, Michael Essien, joining dream team Chelsea for a club record 40 million euros. How the youngster is expected to repay the astronomic outlay remains to be seen. Elsewhere Liverpool remain active in the transfer market. An improved offer has been tabled for lost son Michael Owen, while the unwanted Milan Baros’ anticipated move to Aston Villa has been put on ice by Lyon’s surprise 15 million euro bid. Could it be that former Reds manager Gerard Houllier, now in charge of the French championships, is still a fan? Rafael Benitez may yet add a winger to his squad in the shape of Bayern Munich’s Hasan Salihamidzic or Realo Betis’ highly rated Joachim. In Portugal, champions Benfica have lost two key players just before the new season kicks off – the influential Miguel has been tempted to Valencia in a 7 million euro, five-year deal, while exciting winger Alex will be active in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg in the future.