Should Anelka have become an Arsenal legend?

Martin Keown has named Nicolas Anelka as the best 17 year-old of all-time, but where did it all go wrong for him at Arsenal?

The striker arrived from Paris Saint-Germain for a nominal fee, and hit the ground running in North London, despite his tender age.

Anelka scored nine goals in all competitions in his debut season at Arsenal, in 40 appearances, although he rarely played the full 90 minutes in helping his side to win the Premier League and FA Cup double.

The striker later revealed that after his first campaign with the PL giants, the fans didn’t appreciate his hard work, and at that point he had already made his mind up to fire his way to a move away from the club, and he did just that.

In 2008, Nicolas stated: ‘When I started the season there was a poll because I had taken the place of Ian Wright. I thought the fans really wanted it to be me and were pleased with me.

‘But seeing the result in the papers and on TV hit me hard because I had done things for nothing. I thought “So that’s how it is. This is how you thank me. Okay now you watch what is going to happen. I am going to play, score my goals and just when you are saying Anelka, Anelka that’s when I’m going to leave”.

Anelka scored 17 Premier League goals in the coming season, despite being only 18 for the majority of that campaign, and departed for Real Madrid.

Martin Keown has relived his early moments at Arsenal

‘Best 17-year-old I’ve ever seen,’ Keown said. ‘In fact, everything [Thierry] Henry did, I think Anelka could have done for Arsenal if he’d had wanted to stay. But you can’t stop that player, once he’s through he’s rapid, no backlift, great control, he’s away.

‘He used to do that in training every time I saw him, he loved that position.’

Ian Wright was of course a huge fans favourite in North London, and still is in fact, but were Arsenal fans harsh on our young future star?

Anelka showed an amazing amount of talent at such a young age, and his impressive performances for our club are still rememebered to this day, and to think back and remember he was only 17 and 18 for much of his time at Arsenal is just crazy.

We of course made a fair profit on the £500,000 fee paid to sign him, but if fans had given him more credit, could he have fired our side to further glory for years to come? Or would we have never unearthed Thierry Henry if we still had Anelka in the ranks?


Tags Martin Keown Nicolas Anelka


  1. So, he reads Arsenal-hating media and wants to move away? I don’t know what’s more frustrating; that he is clearly an egotistical idiot, or that he wasn’t warned of the media bias by those with his best interests at heart?
    It’s the height of arrogance to think that the fans would appreciate the 9 goal contribution he put in, over the exploits of our (then) all-time leading goalscorer.
    His ability was there for all to see. That he never became one of the most feared front-men in Europe is a clear reflection of his attitude/mental capacity.

  2. Petulant brat. Just another immature young man, who had started believing his own headlines. I seem to recall his brother(s) stirring things up, too. Too much money and too much ego, too young. But, we did well out of Anelka. His sale financed our new training centre and Thierry Henry. He was a good player for us, but he really just bounced around clubs, after he left the Arsenal.

  3. He was one of Wenger’s really excellent buys, signed for half a million and eventually sold for 23 million. His attitude was attributed to his agent brothers who completely turned his head. I loved watching him play!

    1. Also, would have walked into today’s team and score loads of goals, a huge talent but misguided by his family.

  4. Wenger would have unearthed Henry no matter what Anelka did, just as he unearthed so many talented players.

    Anelka, like Adebayour, thought he was better than he was and suffered for it.

    If he thinks Gooners and the club suffered for his petulance, just let him compare what he achieved to his fellow frenchman Thierry Henry – you were second best mate from beginning to end.

    We made excellent money from him (£24 million I believe) so who is he trying to kid regarding regrets?!?!

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