John Mikel Obi The true story of the transfer tussle between Manchester United and Chelsea
Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has finally revealed the details of the transfer tussle between Manchester United and Chelsea for his signature.
Mikel Obi had signed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester United after a month’s trial at United’s Carrington training ground.
The then 15-year-old was so highly rated at Manchester United that then captain Roy Keanemade sure he wasn’t heavily tackled in training.
ALSO READ: Mikel Obi recalls first training session at Chelsea
Keane along with some other senior players like Paul Scholes even urged Alex Ferguson to sign the Nigerian midfielder. Something similar happened before Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mikel also appeared at a press conference in a Manchester United jersey and was offered a £1.5m deal by the club.
According to Mikel, Ferguson promised him world when he thought he had succeeded in convincing the midfielder to join Manchester United.
“He would call me into his office after training, point at the players’ plush cars in the car park and say: ‘If you work hard, next year you’ll be driving one of those. You are going to play for this club and you are going to be rich,” Mikel told the UK Sun in a recent interview.
Being one of the hottest football prospects at that time, Chelsea also approached the youngster and that was where the problem started.
After a secret meeting with Jose Mourinho, Mikel’s head was turned.
“Roman Abramovich organised six cars to get me there. It was like a military operation,” Mikel added.
“I started in one car, then the drivers would talk to each other and suddenly I was dropped off and then picked up by another car.
“Once there, Jose told me: ‘The boss really wants you. I’ll play you and make you what you want to be’. That really helped as there were times when I thought: ‘Have I made the right decision?‘,” Mikel added.
Knowing of Chelsea’s approach, Ferguson stepped up his interest and Mikel was faced with the biggest decision of his life.
According to him, an anonymous agent representing a different club had also offered him a briefcase containing £53,000 to sign for a club. Barcelona were also interested.
His mind was already made up for Chelsea and there is even the rumour that he had to hide in a toilet to avoid a meeting with Ferguson in Norway.
“I had Barca waiting to pounce if the legal wrangle couldn’t be sorted, but felt obliged to sign for Chelsea as they’d looked after me,” Mikel said.
Chelsea eventually won the battle and paid £4m to his parent club, Lyn Oslo and a further £12m to Manchester United in compensation.
ALSO READ: Why Mikel Obi is a Chelsea legend
Mikel revealed that Ferguson was very angry when he made his decision to join Chelsea and noted that the Premier League great stressed that no player should turn down Manchester United.
The now Super Eagles captain spent more than 10 years at Chelsea where he won the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies and two League Cups.