Zenden joins Liverpool in time for Europe

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The Independent Football

It would be easy to believe that his nickname Bolo - a diminutive - stems from the ability he developed during last season to deliver the sucker punch. During a month-long purple patch that began at the end of October, he scored five of the eight goals during his second season at the Riverside. They included winning goals at Charlton and West Bromwich, and the clincher in a 2-0 victory over Liverpool.

The only blot on the 28-year-old's copybook is his failure to fit into the future plans of rouble-rich Chelsea, whom he joined in 2001.

Another who looks unlikely to further his career as part of Jose Mourinho's champions is Michael Essien. The problem of having a billionaire owner, as Chelsea do in Roman Abramovich, is that clubs whose players attract Mourinho's attention assume that they can think of a number a double it when setting a transfer fee.

The president of Lyon, Jean-Michel Aulas, insists that Chelsea's reported £26 million bid for the Ghanaian international midfielder is not enough. "Even at £26 million I will not sell Michael Essien. The offer will have to be considerably higher," he said.

Lyon are determined to cash in on the 22-year-old, one of Europe's most sought-after players, with Manchester United also believed to be among the suitors.

That could become a famil-iar story for Chelsea, as familiar as the news yesterday that Ricardo Fuller had failed a medical, scuppering his proposed move from Portsmouth to promoted Sunderland.

The Jamaican striker's persistent knee problem became public knowledge when he signed for Pompey from Preston North End. The South Coast club eventually agreed a pay-as-you-play deal, because of their doubts about his durability, but he proved a regular performer for them.

Surprised at Sunderland's decision, Peter Storrie, Portsmouth's chief executive, said: "Everyone knows he has got a knee problem and Sunderland knew that in advance."