Manchester United agree to buy 14-year-old from Burnley

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LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) Manchester United have agreed terms with Burnley to sign 14-year-old striker John Cofie, the Championship (second division) club said.

The struggling Lancashire team, who parted company with manager Steve Cotterill on Thursday, reported the transfer on their Web site (www.burnleyfootballclub.co.uk).

No fee was given for the English youth international, who local media reported had signed a six-year deal, but British newspapers said earlier this week that Burnley hoped to receive one million pounds (2.11 million dollar) in compensation.

The second division side said they had negotiated a 25 percent sell-on clause for Cofie and have first option on loaning back the player at a later date.

United have also agreed to play a friendly within 12 months of Cofie signing professional terms at Old Trafford.

''The player was unwilling to come back to Burnley, so we didn't have a choice in keeping him here,'' said the club's operational director Brendan Flood. ''This just shows how hard it is to keep someone who is exceptional.'' Tim Bailey of sports lawyers Beswicks, legal representative and spokesman for the Cofie family, was quoted on the Lancashire Telegraph Web site (www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk) saying: ''John is highly delighted to be joining one of the world's leading clubs. He is looking forward to this next step in his football career.

British media reported this week that Premier League champions United faced competition from Liverpool and Chelsea for Cofie, one of the most prized young talents in the country.

''The interest shown in John from a number of Premiership clubs underlines his recognised ability and potential,'' added Bailey.

Reuters AB GC1037

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