Nicolas Anelka – Arsenal Legend?

When you think what Nicolas Anelka could have achieved at the club, it comes as a major disappointment that he only played two seasons at Arsenal.

Anelka was plucked from French side Paris Saint-Germain for just £500,000 in 1997 and was viewed as a fantastic signing and a player of great potential at 17 years of age.

The French striker showed the odd glimpse of excellence but they were few and far between. That was until Ian Wright suffered an injury before Christmas and Anelka was thrust into the limelight. Suddenly the Frenchman exploded onto the scene.

He helped deliver the Premier League and FA cup double for the club in a blistering display of pace and finishing, there were times when he was simply unplayable.

His first goal for the club against Manchester United was a sign of things to come, as cut back on the edge of the area to unleash an unstoppable right-foot shot into the net.

It was not just his pace however that set him apart. Anelka had it all. His finishing was sublime, he was able to find space and get himself into goal-scoring positions and possessed great skill and composure. Not only that, but he could hit a ball from distance too.

In his first season he played 40 times and scored nine goals in all competitions including one goal in the 2-0 FA Cup final win over Newcastle United.

If anyone felt he would fail in his second season they were very much mistaken.

The striker went from strength to strength. Although the club failed to win any trophies that year, Anelka was excellent. Finishing the season with 19 goals in 46 matches, he was named PFA Young player of the year.

But with success came greed. The whole of Europe had been monitoring the youngster and his electric form and suddenly Nicolas Anelka was a player in demand. His head had been turned and the Arsenal faithful had started to get frustrated with the player, for what they saw as a lack of effort and enthusiasm. He had been nicknamed ‘Le sulk’ and blamed the English press for his desire to leave the club.

Whether this was true or whether he was ill advised we may never know. But he was a player who had the world at his feet. He played 90 times for the club and scored 28 goals in a whirlwind two years.

Nicolas Anelka has admitted he should never have left the club, and the rest of us can all agree.

I have always wondered just how much he and the club would have achieved if he had stayed longer with the team. The thought is frightening and disappointing at the same time.

A player with so much ability, pace and composure in front of goal, he may of only been at Arsenal for two seasons but what an unbelievable impact he made.

Can Nicolas Anelka claim to be an Arsenal Legend? For me, with the impact he made and the double he helped the club win, the answer is a resounding yes.