Nicolas Anelka has been the darling of journalists world over since that massive coup by Arsenal in 1997 from PSG for £500,000. Anelka had decent success at Arsenal, forming good partnerships on top with Bergkamp and co., but became unsettled at the end of the decade – a trait he has held on to till he joined Chelsea many many years later. London Evening Standard in a column in 2002 reported the issues (behind the scene) that surfaced when Anelka wanted to leave the Gunners in 2009. Le Sulk, as the frustrated fans called him, along with his brother, made it clear to David Dein that Anelka doesn’t want to play for Arsenal any more.
Arsene Wenger, in his typical statement, thought otherwise, but he was circumspect too –
“We want to keep him, but he’s putting so much effort into demanding a transfer I’m beginning to ask myself questions.”
For the next two months, in the summer of 1999, there was a tug-of-war between Anelka’s agents and the club, wherein he was being linked to Juventus and Lazio among other clubs. Finally, on the 2nd of August, he was sold to Real Madrid for a sum of £22m. Nobody in the history of the club gave this much transfer profit to the manager!
Anelka said –
“I’m not concerned with the millions. For a long time I have wanted to play in Spain. Being at Real Madrid is even better.”
It was a fantastic deal for Arsenal under controversial circumstances. Anelka had little idea that he left behind a team which would eventually become the best football team in Europe, at least by the virtue of attractive football.
Between Arsenal and Chelsea, Anelka had provided his services to six other clubs – Real Madrid, PSG, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton Wanderers. Finally, at Chelsea, the Frenchman settled down for a period of four years – a record spell as far as his career is concerned.
Before Chelsea, Anelka had a successful spell under Sam Allardyce at Bolton. He had scored 22 goals in 53 games for the club, before he was called by Chelsea in January, 2008. Sam always had a good relationship with Anelka, and recently it has been spoken about by assistant manager Neil McDonald –
“We are looking for good players and Anelka is a good player. He had a fantastic relationship with Sam.”
It is understood that Anelka is having a pay dispute with his current club Shanghai Shenhua and wants to leave in January, 2013. Other than West Ham, reports suggest that new QPR manager Harry Redknapp is interested in the services of the French striker.
It remains to be seen if Harry can afford Anelka at QPR, he has spoken about his interest recently –
“He(Anelka) is a top player so he is a player we would be interested in, but whether we could afford to get anywhere near him I am not sure. It depends, as I say, just how expensive the whole package comes to. If it is within reason, he is a player that could certainly improve your team.”
With the exciting prospect of returning back to the Premiership in the cards, Anelka might not want financial issues to be sorted out at his Chinese club. Maybe, there is that one last golden transfer chapter to be written in the pages of an incredible story – the diary of one Nicolas Anelka.