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Drogba lobbying helped: Malouda

July 09, 2007 14:08 IST

France midfielder Florent Malouda, who is due to become a Chelsea player on Monday, says former team mate Didier Drogba used his influence to persuade the London club to buy him.

Malouda, whose Olympique Lyon club said on Sunday they had reached a deal with Chelsea, and Ivory Coast striker Drogba once played together for French side Guingamp before moving on to more prestigious clubs.

"Didier pushed a bit, a lot even," Malouda told Monday's issue of French sports daily L'Equipe. "But then, at Chelsea, that's not enough to recruit a player."

Apparently upset that the talks were dragging on, Malouda left Lyon's training camp in the French Alps last week.

"The [Lyon] president had told me he would let me go and I knew he would be true to his word but the problem was the time it took," Malouda said. "He [Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas] is a tough businessman but everybody knew I would leave."

A left-footed attacking midfielder, Malouda, who is both technically gifted and physically strong, said he is a Chelsea fan.

"They were my number one choice for many reasons," he said. "I saw several matches there as a spectator and I always enjoyed it very much. There was also the coach, who really wanted to have me, and life in London, because I want my family to feel at ease.

"The most important thing was I felt they really wanted me. I also feel the kind of football they play suits me quite well."

Malouda, who had joined Lyon for 6.5m euros in 2003, should move to Chelsea for a transfer fee of around 20m euros, a Lyon source said.

The 27-year-old has won four French titles with Lyon and was voted best Ligue 1 player last season. A member of the France squad who reached last year's World Cup final, he has played 30 internationals, scoring three goals.

Real Madrid had also expressed an interest in a player regarded as one of the finest France has to offer.

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