Saturday, January 12, 2008
Le Sulk heads for Les Bleus
Nicolas Anelka's move to Chelsea provides the perfect stage for the gifted but enigmatic French striker to make his football career mean something.
Arsene Wenger unearthed the french starlet as an 18 year-old from Paris St Germain, for the meagre price of £500,000 and got some brilliant performances during an all-too-brief stay at Highbury.
He earned the tag of "Le Sulk", during his stay in North London, as he listened to the deluded ramlbings of his brother agents - and despite his talent there was great relief and merriment in my household when he left Arsenal in August 1999 to join Real Madrid in a £23m deal.
Anelka has never lived up to his undoubted talent, never really looked likely to fulfill his potential as while he was blessed with physical prowess - he's also been cursed with mental shortcomings and a readiness to believe his sycophant followers.
Anelka showed at Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton that he has (had?) the skills to succeed at the top level, but for all his talents - he has too much baggage to be relied upon by top flight sides.
After a domestic double with Arsenal in 1998 and a Champions League win with Real Madrid in 2000, his career has been a series of ill-fated transfers where the biggest headlines are written the day he signs the contract - and little more thereafter.
Chelsea have bought a flawed talent, although in the short term Anelka might be able to help Chelsea to strive towards their trophy challenges this season.
But it will be beyond Avram Grant (or any manager) to keep Anelka playing to his ability for more than 30-40 matches. Anelka changes clubs like other players change their cars - playing for ten teams in scarcely more than ten years.
Despite the 4 1/2 years on the contract the fact remains that Anelka has never seen a contract through - and it's most likely that Stamford Bridge will be no more than a pit stop as "le Sulk" continues his footballing journey through most of Europe's clubs.