For the last two days rumors that Ghana and Chelsea legend Michael Essien might make his way to Major League Soccer have floated around the internet. Among the teams that Essien has been linked to by a report from Italian site TuttoMercatoWeb.com are the Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, and (you guessed it) the Portland Timbers.
A box-to-box midfielder who played eight seasons at Chelsea before spending the last two at Real Madrid and
Inter AC Milan, Essien would essentially have to slot into the same positional grouping as Diego Chara, Will Johnson, and Ben Zemanski.
Although Essien would undoubtedly be an upgrade at whatever position he played, it is hard to imagine the Timbers expending the resources to change up a position that is one of the team's strongest when there are other needs to address.
Moreover, while the possibility of more designated players has been bandied about as the new collective bargaining agreement is forged between MLS and the MLSPA, the Timbers are currently at capacity and without that change happening would need to get Liam Ridgewell, Fanendo Adi, or Diego Valeri off the books as a designated player.
While the MLSPA's released salaries from the end of the 2014 season suggest that Adi or Valeri could potentially have their salaries bought down with allocation money, this is unlikely to be the case as both players are likely in the group that league owners are often calling out as making more money than is listed by the MLSPA. Additionally, given the murky state of the MLS rulebook, it is unclear if a player could have their salary paid down once they sign as a designated player or if they would need to sign a new contract to do so.
Regardless, the Essien rumor does not pass the smell test for the Timbers and looks extremely unlikely.
Would you take Michael Essien over one of the Timbers' current holding midfielders? Which Designated Player would you get rid of in order to bring him on board?