United call for Chelsea transfer embargo over Mikel controversy

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The Independent Online

Manchester United have sent a nine-page letter to Fifa calling for transfer sanctions to be imposed on Chelsea if it is proven they induced the Nigerian prodigy John Obi Mikel to break his contract with Old Trafford, although in private United would be willing to reach a compromise with the Premiership champions.

The 18-year-old signed for United from Norwegian side Lyn Oslo in April but later claimed that he had done so under duress and expressed a desire to join Chelsea instead.

He left Norway without warning in November with his agent, John Shittu, and only resurfaced this month, with the Nigeria squad at the African Nations' Cup in Egypt.

Lyn Oslo, whose sporting director Morgan Andersen also signed the letter to Fifa, have claimed that death threats were made against Mikel's family when it was said he would be joining United.

The letter, which emerged during a BBC Radio Five investigation, also calls for the exclusion of Chelsea, who will deny all allegations, from competitions. However, the dispute's natural resolution will be that United, who claim to have a legal right to Mikel's registration, will sell the 18-year-old to Chelsea and would look for at least £6m.

They could not reach an agreement with Chelsea if the Stamford Bridge club were banned from buying players and therefore Fifa is likely to push for compromise. The legality of United's claim to have rights to the player - and chief executive David Gill has appeared on MUTV with the paperwork - is being contested because Mikel had no personal representation when he signed the deal.

United claim the player waived that right. In the room were Andersen, United academy director Jim Ryan, and lawyers representing United and Lyn. Earlier this month a Norwegian court upheld the legitimacy of the contract the teenager signed that should have seen him join United this month.

The lawyers for Mikel still have leave to appeal that decision. Only when the legal process in Norway has been completed will Fifa step in to adjudicate.

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