Nicolas Anelka: One of the most expensive players in football history

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Following the big-money move of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG, Nicolas Anelka has lost his crown as the most expensive footballer ever.

The nomadic striker has played for 10 different teams in no less than six leagues across the globe. Let’s take a look at the rollercoaster career of the clinical Frenchman.

Paris Saint-Germain

Nicolas Anelka began his career as a 16-year-old in 1996 at PSG and attracted interest from around Europe after showing signs of a true goal-scoring ability.

Arsenal | £500,000

The following year, the promising striker was one of the first signings made by new Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger.

Although sporadically featuring throughout his debut season in England, the rapid youngster became a first-team regular and was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in his second season.

However, the following year Arsenal could not repeat the success of the previous season, and this coincided with the Frenchman demanding a higher wage.

During the resulting transfer speculation, the Gunners’ faithful gradually turned against the striker and nicknamed him “Le Sulk” as he departed the North London club.

Real Madrid | £22.3m

In 1999, Anelka arrived at Los Blancos as the Spanish club’s record signing.

After a promising start to his Madrid career, he fell out of favour with former manager Vicente del Bosque and was suspended for 45 days for allegedly refusing to train.

Although he did play for the Spanish giants again, the moody Frenchman soon moved on yet again.

Paris Saint-Germain | £22m

Following another sizeable transfer fee in 2000, Anelka then returned as a professional to the club he represented as a youth player.

Similar to his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, the ego of the unsettled striker caused issues with the PSG hierarchy and this ultimately lead to his exit after only 39 appearances with the French club.

Liverpool | Loan

In an attempt to cool the friction between the former France striker and his boyhood club, Anelka returned to England on a short-term loan at Liverpool.

He only managed four goals in 20 appearances during this spell, and upon returning to his parent club, the Parisians decided to permanently dispose of the troubled forward a second time.

Manchester City | £12m

Among widespread interest in his services, Anelka chose to return to the Premier League on a permanent basis with Manchester City under the guidance of Kevin Keegan.

The deadly Frenchman topped the goal-scoring charts in both his seasons at the Manchester club, netting 37 goals in 89 appearances.

Just as he seemed to have found his niche, ‘Nico’ controversially elected to move to Turkish side Fenerbahçe in the January transfer window of 2005.

Fenerbahçe | £7m

Anelka carried over his impressive form to Turkey and pushed The Yellow Canaries to a league title in his first and only season at the club, bagging 14 goals in 39 appearances.

His successful stint with the Turkish giants prompted yet another return to England in August 2006.

Bolton Wanderers | £8m

Coming into the peak of his career, the roaming Frenchman experienced a positive two-year spell with Bolton where he scored a noteworthy 21 goals in 53 appearances.

However, The Trotters endured an unconvincing start to the 2007/08 season and their prized striker threatened to reluctantly move if the side did not improve.

Despite signing a new four-year deal with Bolton amidst this speculation, Anelka jumped ship for the eighth time in his career.

Chelsea | £15m

The footballing explorer appeared to be settled during his four-year stint with Chelsea, where he gradually formed a formidable French-speaking strike force with Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda.

Anelka experienced great success at The Bridge, winning the FA Cup in 2009, and then completing the league and cup double in the following season.

The elegant forward made 125 appearances for the Blues and won the Golden Boot in 2008/09 Premier League season with 19 goals.

Following a 14-match goalless run, it was revealed in December 2011 that Anelka had requested to be transferred in the January transfer window.

Shanghai Shenhua | Free transfer

In his first move outside of Europe, the veteran striker left Stamford Bridge for free and arrived in China on 1 January 2012.

Reportedly earning £200,000-a-week at the wealthy Shanghai club, Anelka was installed as a temporary player-coach in place of the dismissed Jean Tigana.

Despite Didier Drogba joining Shanghai Shenhua to play alongside his former teammate, Anelka only managed three goals in 22 appearances.

Following reports of a financial crisis within the heavily invested football club that lead to unpaid wages, the high-priced Frenchman departed on loan to Serie A giants Juventus on a five-month deal.

Juventus | Loan

On 6 January 2013, the former France international was brought in to relieve an “emergency” situation in attack at the Turin club.

Anelka has not yet scored for Juventus in three appearances - but the established striker has the option to extend his stay for another season if he performs well.

Accumulated transfer fees for Nicolas Anelka: £86.8m

The much-travelled Frenchman has flourished at some clubs and faltered in others. Leave your thoughts on the 33-year-old’s remarkable career and his chances of succeeding at Juventus in the comments below.


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