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What Juventus Should Expect from Nicolas Anelka

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentFebruary 8, 2013

What Juventus Should Expect from Nicolas Anelka

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    Nicolas Anelka ended his turbulent tenure with Shanghai Shenhua by signing a short-term contract with reigning Serie A champions Juventus.

    Beppe Marotta was realistic about what Anelka added to Antonio Conte’s squad (from Sky Sport Italia via Football Italia):

    Anelka? In July we made some targeted investments, but now we are in an emergency situation in attack, so we moved to fix those issues. It can be a good move for the short-term, then at the end of the season we’ll evaluate what must be done. He is filling a hole.

    This article will tell Juve supporters what they should expect from the Frenchman.  

Nicklas Replaced by Nicolas

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    "And like that...he's gone."

    Nicklas Bendtner that is, who's rehabbing from thigh surgery. He came to the club overweight, warmed the benches, strolled through games and failed to convert the 11 goal scoring opportunities that came his way. 

    This is person Nicolas Anelka has replaced. Surely, he can surpass the Dane's nonexistent contributions to Juventus.  

    To give you an idea how low the expectations are, Anelka wouldn't even be at Juve if the club's bid for Lisandro López wasn't rejected by Lyon, or if Didier Drogba didn't demand such excessive wages. 

Nicolas Anelka Has No Leverage

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    In 1999, Nicolas Anelka had forced Arsène Wenger's hand, and Arsenal were open to the idea of selling one of the most promising young players in world football. 

    Juventus asked Nicolas if he wanted to join them, to which the Frenchman's management sent the club a fax with four succinct points why he wouldn't be donning the black and white shirt (via Football Italia's Antonio Labbate):

    1. Juventus are not participating in the Champions League.

    2. Lazio, potentially, are technically superior to Juventus.

    3. Rome is a better place than Turin.

     4. Turin, as advised by his French international colleagues, is a difficult city to settle into [1].

    Fourteen years later, Bianconeri have taken in a forward who scored three goals in 22 Chinese Super League games, and is basically using the club to audition for his next payday. 

    Here are the four points Juve should issue to Nicolas:

    1. When you do get a chance, do your job i.e. score.

    2. Take your €600,000 and don't sulk about. 

    3. If Antonio Conte yells at you, you probably deserve it. 

    4. This isn't Shanghai Shenhua, this is Juventus—respect the club. 

     

    [1] (Per UEFA.com): "I've talked with some French players who played for Juve in the past and they all told me that this is a great club," I believe the word I'm searching for is hypocrite. 

    So, is this an example of Nicolas being disingenuous? Of course. 

    At the time, why didn't he consult Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, or Didier Deschamps? 

    To verify what Labbate said, here's an article in 1999 by Gabriele Marcotti (via Sports Illustrated):

    That leaves Juventus as the sole bidder for Anelka's services.

    Officially they continue to deny their interest. But, according to the press, they are very much in the running and have made an offer which blows away not just Lazio's bid, but the fee Inter paid for Vieri as well.

    The reported value of the total package is in the region of $55 million. Juventus are said to have bid $35 million in cash, plus French winger Thierry Henry, plus the loan of Italian forward Nicola Amoruso.

    The 22-year-old French international [Henry] cost Juventus $17 million last January. Given the spiraling inflation that has hit player valuations in the past few months, his worth on the open market is at least $20 million.

    So there you have it: $55 million [for Anelka].

    The only thing standing in the way of the deal, indeed the only reason Arsenal did not sell him to Juventus weeks ago, is Anelka himself.

    The young forward has repeatedly indicated that he wants to play for Lazio and will turn down any move to Turin.

    Anelka was the king (albeit, for a very short time) and he had leverage over Juve to the extent that they bent over backwards for him. 

    Now, he's coming to the club as an expendable bit-part player. 

Don't Expect Much from Nicolas Anelka

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    As I said last November (via B/R):

    Bilbao seem insistent on making Fernando Llorente's life miserable by refusing to sell him.

    They'd rather let him leave on a Bosman than accept a derisive transfer fee in January. He's now a bench warmer.

    Juventus have secured Fernando Llorente on a free transfer, but he'll officially be a Bianconeri player once his Athletic Bilbao contract expires at the end of this season. Nicolas Anelka isn't going to fight for Juve's cause because he knows Llorente is the club's future No. 9. 

    Would Nicolas have signed if the club offered him a pay-as-you-play deal? Of course not. 

    So, don't expect a miracle from him, when he's in Turin to get paid, to stay in shape, and is using Juve as a platform to be signed by prospective clubs in the summer.

    Even if he scores several goals, why sign him permanently? 

    Juventus co-own forwards like Ciro Immobile, Manolo Gabbiadini and Richmond Boakye, who are younger, have a higher upside and will demand significantly lesser wages.

    Beppe Marotta should have foreseen this situation because if Anelka and Nicklas Bendtner are deemed worthy of calling themselves a Juventus player, then Alessandro Del Piero should still be at the club. 

    Il Pinturicchio would do a better job for the club than Nicklas and Nicolas—and you know Alessandro cares deeply about the club, something you can't say about Bendtner and Anelka. 

    By the way, if you're wondering what happened with Anelka in China, here's a quick summary (via B/R):

    Nicolas Anelka was disillusioned with life in China, not just because the club had stopped paying him, but he felt betrayed by management and the fans were hating on him. 

    He accepted the responsibilities that came with being the captain and coach of Shanghai Shenhua with good intentions. 

    That quickly changed when his teammates weren't playing at the standard he expected. 

    It was a decision fraught with peril and gave you an idea how ignorant Shenhua's management were of Anelka's attitude to professional football—"I don't care"—which were the words he used when confronted by an angry Shanghai supporter. 

    Anelka is an extremely prideful person to a fault, so when management wanted to backtrack, and replace him as coach, the Frenchman said (via SI.com): "If there is still no one to support me and they continue to play little tricks behind my back...then I will quickly decide whether or not to retire."

    Guangzhou Evergrande's CSL-winning manager Marcello Lippi, who won the UEFA Champions League with Juventus and the FIFA World Cup with Italy, spoke glowingly about the fans (via Mariella Radaelli at China Daily): "I like everything about this place. But above all, I really appreciate the kindness and affection the people show us."

    If you respect the fans and you're a winner, you'll be treated as a deity—just ask Stephon Marbury. 

    Though, if you have a pompous attitude whilst you're underperforming like Nicolas, you'll be hounded out of China. 

     

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    Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com and Squawka 

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