Gill insistent over Mikel
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Manchester United chief executive David Gill insists that Nigerian starlet John Obi Mikel has signed for the club despite the controversy surrounding his whereabouts.
The Red Devils beat Chelsea to the signing of the highly regarded 18-year-old, although mystery surrounds his future after the Norwegian club confirmed to skysports.com that they suspected the player had been taken by agents working for the London side.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho was understood to be upset at missing out on the talented youngster, although reports are now suggesting that the African ace may be entering into talks at Stamford Bridge.
United have written to Chelsea about the controversial dispute, and are confident of landing the player after he was paraded in the famous red of the Old Trafford outfit.
Gill firmly insisted that United had completed the signing of Mikel, and voiced his surprise at the course of events that has seen intrigue surround the transfer with his apparent disappearance.
"We cannot track John Obi unfortunately. We sent [youth team coach] Jim Ryan over there yesterday but he didn't get to see him at all," Gill told MUTV.
"He cannot go underground for ever, he was last seen making his way to London, which we find extremely surprising.
"I am very disappointed. We have written to another club but they have not responded to our letters.
"We have shown due deference to them, explaining the situation, we have sent copies to the Premier League and we will see the outcome.
"We did a deal with the club, quite properly, following the rules.
"We also did a deal with John Obi. He has turned 18 and turned professional, but in order to play in the Premier League he needs a work permit.
"That is the process we have gone through. We have the rights to the player."
The influence of agents Jerome Anderson and John Shittu is bound to be thrown into intense focus as further details emerge, and Lyn sporting director Morgan Andersen accused the pair of pressurising Mikel to change his mind.
"Why leave suddenly? Why not tell the club you are contracted to?" said Andersen.
"The boys who live with John could see he was scared, he was crying.
"I feel really bad for John, he has to protect himself and his family in Nigeria.
"The agents tried to influence him to say he didn't want to play for Manchester United.
"He didn't want to do that but he said he was under great pressure from those people."