Nicolas Sebastien Anelka (born 14 March 1979 in Versailles) is a French football player playing in the forward position, currently for Fenerbahçe. Previous clubs he has played for include Paris Saint-Germain (1996-97, 2000-02), Arsenal (1997-99), Real Madrid (1999-2000), Liverpool (2002) and Manchester City (2002-2005).
Anelka started out at Paris Saint-Germain as a youth player but in November 1996, at the age of 17, he joined Arsenal for a fee of £500,000, soon after the appointment of Arsène Wenger as manager. His first team opportunities were limited in the 1996-97 season but in 1997-98 he broke into the first team (especially after a long-term injury to Ian Wright) and was a key player in Arsenal’s Premiership and FA Cup double success that season. Anelka scored the first goal in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United in that season’s FA Cup final.
A player with exceptional pace and finishing ability, in 1998-99 he won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, but Arsenal failed to defend their Premiership title and made little progress in the UEFA Champions League. In addition, Anelka made it clear he wanted a better salary than the one Arsenal were offering him. He was transferred to Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 1999, for £22.3m. In all he made 90 appearances for Arsenal (including 17 as a substitute), scoring 28 goals.
Anelka spent just one season at Real Madrid, and played in the side that won the European Cup final, beating Valencia 3-0. However, his form was remarkably worse than it had been at Arsenal – scoring only four goals in 29 appearances – and his inability to mix with his teammates and cope with media attention led to him leaving in the summer of 2000, to begin his second spell at Paris St-Germain.
After one season at Paris St-Germain, Anelka returned to the English Premiership, signing a one-year loan deal with Liverpool. But he failed to hold down a regular first team place and manager Gerard Houllier decided not to offer him a permanent deal after the end of the season. Instead he opted to join newly promoted Manchester City and the £12 million fee paid by manager Kevin Keegan was a club record.
In his three seasons at Manchester City, although scoring freely, the addition of Anelka to the club’s squad hardly made a drastic difference to its playing fortunes. They finished ninth in 2002-03, 16th in 2003-04 and midway through the 2004-05 season they were looking set for a mid-table finish at best. There was increasing speculation as to whether Anelka was going to be transferred to a bigger club.
Nicolas AnelkaOn January 27, 2005, the speculation ended when Manchester City announced that it had agreed to a fee for Anelka’s transfer to Turkish power Fenerbahçe. In August 2005 there was considerable speculation in the press that Anelka was being courted by Newcastle United for a return to English football but this has not turned into reality.
Anelka had made his debut for France in a goalless draw with Sweden on April 21, 1998, and was part of France’s Euro 2000, Confederations Cup 2001 and 2002 World Cup squads. However, Anelka had not been called up for international duty between 2002 and 2005, after a fallout with the coach at the time, Jacques Santini, when he snubbed a call up for a friendly. However he recently enjoyed a revival of sorts, as Raymond Domenech recalled him to the squad for a round of friendly fixtures in November 2005, culminating in him scoring his first international goal for over 3 years in the recent 3-2 win over Costa Rica on the island of Martinique. As of November 12, 2005, he has won 30 caps for France, scoring seven goals.