Man United score as Chelsea sign Mikel

Chelsea signed teenage Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo on Friday, although most of the reported £16-million transfer fee will go to Manchester United.

The Blues and United have been in a long legal battle over the future of the 19-year-old star, who had signed a pre-contract agreement with the Red Devils in April 2005. But Mikel later said he was pressured into joining United and wanted to move to Chelsea instead.

Now the three clubs have come to an agreement, with United receiving three-quarters of the transfer fee and Lyn receiving £4-million.

Mikel is now free to join Chelsea, who have also hired Germany captain Michael Ballack from Bayern Munich, AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, Feyenoord’s Côte d’Ivoire-born striker Salomon Kalou and Portuguese goalkeeper Hilario, who arrived on a free transfer from Nacional da Madeira, all in the past two weeks.

“As a result of this settlement all claims in this matter, which Chelsea were never an official party to, are now withdrawn,” Chelsea and United said in identical statements in relation to the Mikel move.

“The payments do not in any way imply the acceptance of any such claims and have been made solely so that Mikel can resume his career. United will support Chelsea in any work permit application if necessary.

“All parties have agreed that there will be no further comment on the settlement or any of the allegations or claims.”—Sapa-AP


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