Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said the club had shown Michael Essien "respect" by letting him join AC Milan. The 31-year-old Ghana midfielder's transfer window move to Italy was formally completed on Monday after Milan had announced Essien would be joining them on Friday.
"To show Michael respect is to not stop him going," Mourinho told Chelsea's website. "We would have been happy had he stayed because he is fantastic player for the team, but he's given everything for the club and a great chance arrived for his future. I know he can continue to play at a high level and I wish him success and happiness in Italy and at the World Cup in Brazil."
Essien, who has moved on a free transfer, was one of Chelsea's most successful players, winning two Premier League titles, the Champions League, four FA Cups and one League Cup following his arrival at the London club from French side Lyon in 2005.
In all, he made 256 appearances for Chelsea and also had a season on loan at Real Madrid in 2012/13 when Mourinho was in charge of the Spanish giants before returning to London when the Portuguese coach took control of the Blues for a second time. But Essien's recent first-team chances at Stamford Bridge had become restricted, hence his decision to move to Italy.