LONDON • Chelsea have narrowly avoided being reported to the Premier League for making an illegal approach to England Under-16 international Nya Kirby at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Times has learnt that Spurs threatened to report their London rivals for tapping up Kirby, 16, after learning of his intention to join Chelsea, which subsequently cancelled the transfer.
As a result, the midfielder spent the past few months on trial at several London clubs, before Crystal Palace applied to the Premier League to register him last month.
Kirby was highly rated at Spurs. After being promoted to the Under-18s last season, he was invited to train with Mauricio Pochettino's first-team squad before the Europa League knockout tie against Borussia Dortmund in March.
The circumstances surrounding his departure have increased the bad blood between Tottenham and Chelsea. Both clubs are competing for access to Wembley while their stadiums are redeveloped in the coming years. Spurs are also understood to be concerned about what they regard as Chelsea's aggressive recruitment at academy level.
Tottenham were informed that Kirby wanted to leave in the summer amid alleged interest from Manchester United and Liverpool. But they discovered there were no offers from those clubs and concluded that a deal had been agreed for him to move to Stamford Bridge.
Kirby played for Chelsea in the summer as a trialist but was left without a club after their withdrawal. He was also given a trial by Arsenal before being provisionally registered by Palace.
THE TIMES, LONDON