Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien is weighing up whether or not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January after Ghana booked its place in the competition.

According to a report in Marca, the biggest selling sports newspaper in Spain, Essien is in a dilemma over the tournament which ends on 10 February.

The Ghana coach, James Kwesi Appiah, is desperate to convince his fellow countryman to take part in Africa’s flagship tournament.

But the midfielder, who is only just regaining his verve after two serious knee injuries, owes a lot to Real Madrid who rescued him from a torrid time at Chelsea.

He will miss eight matches for Real Madrid if he accepts to play for the Black Stars and they reach the semi-finals of the tournament.

If he leaves for South Africa, he could lose his position in the team and also lose out in the chance of getting a permanent contract with the Spanish giants at the end of the loan spell.

Crucially as Essien has not gained his full form, leaving for the tough Nations Cup tournament could be risky as he could suffer another injury again.

Now the ball is in Essien’s court who will have to decide whether or not he wants to go in the coming weeks.

Essien, who suffered two serious career-threatening injuries while playing for Ghana, was flogged off to Real Madrid on loan as he lacked playing time with Chelsea after recovering from the injury.

If the midfielder accepts tio play for Ghana in South Africa, Mourinho would lose his charge for roughly a month, assuming Ghana reaches the final.

If the Black Stars were to be knocked out in the first round, Madrid’s number 15 would wave goodbye to the competition between 27-30th January, depending on which group they are drawn in.

In the worst case scenario – in other words, if Essien is called up and Ghana reaches the semi-finals or better – the Chelsea loanee could miss up to eight matches for his club.

This figure could drop should Madrid fail to qualify for the Spanish Cup semi-finals, which clash with the same stage of the Cup of Nations.

The bad news for Mourinho is that, whatever happens, if the midfielder goes to South Africa he will definitely be unavailable for the Spanish Cup quarter-final and the league trips to Osasuna and Valencia, two of the toughest away fixtures of the season.

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