After scoring two goals in seven appearances for Mumbai City FC last season, Nicolas Anelka has been named manager of the Indian club.
Anelka will serve as a player/manager, as the club heads into the second-ever season of the Indian Super League.
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The French striker was the Premier League’s top scorer for the 2008-09 season with Chelsea, and has played for top clubs throughout Europe including Manchester City, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
However, Anelka’s goalscoring has often been overshadowed by his off the field issues, being sent home from the French team during the 2010 World Cup and earning a suspension for making an inappropriate gesture after scoring a goal for West Brom. He then terminated his contract with the Baggies via Twitter, without notifying the club.
Now in India, Anelka will try his hand in management, as Mumbai City FC announced his appointment today on social media.
Despite the young status of the Indian Super League, the eight-club league boasts some pretty impressive managers.
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Former Italian international Marco Materazzi serves as player/manager for Chennaiyin FC, while former Crystal Palace boss Peter Taylor is in charge for the Kerala Blasters. Brazilian legend Zico manages FC Goa, and David Platt, who scored 27 times for England, coaches FC Pune City.
Demba Ba continues his work as a mercenary striker, as the 30-year-old is set to join Chinese-side Shanghai Shenhua.
Shanghai will be Ba’s eighth club in ten years.
The terms of the move have not been announced, but it is rumored to be for a record transfer fee for the Chinese Super League.
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At Shenhua, Ba will join former Everton and New York Red Bulls striker Tim Cahill, as well as former Liverpool and Juventus midfielder Mohammed Sissoko, who just signed for the Chinese club earlier this week.
The club has a history of spending big for international talent, as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka have both previously played for in Shanghai.
After bursting onto the European scene in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim, Ba played in the Premier League for West Ham, Newcastle and Chelsea before joining Turkish-side Besiktas last summer.
Ba finished second in the Turkish Super Lig with 18 goals, and scored 27 times in all competitions for Besiktas. The Senegalese international had a brilliant record of eight goals in 12 European matches, including a hat trick against Feyenoord in the Champions League.
West Brom were linked with a move to bring the striker back to the Premier League, but it looks like the money was just too good at Shenhua.
Nicolas Anelka was all set to join the 14th club of his nomadic professional career, Nasr Athletique d’Hussein-Dey (NAHD), but has been refused permission to join the Algerian club as he is “too old.”
It’s not a subjective judgment that prevented Anelka from signing for the Ligue 1 (Algeria) club, though. Player requirement rules in Algeria are quite clear: Clubs are only allowed to sign foreigners under the age of 27 who appear regularly for their respective national team.
Anelka meets, of course, neither of those requirements. The former Arsenal, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea (and many more) forward is 35 years old and last appeared for the French national team in 2010.
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That said, perhaps the Algerian league officials should take a closer look at this one. Maybe even make an exception to allow Anelka to be signed.
Before the creation of the Designated Player rule, the LA Galaxy would have never been able to sign David Beckham. Because Major League Soccer created the DP rule to facilitate the world superstar’s signing, the league — and ultimately the sport across the country — benefited immensely.
Algerian soccer is already on its way up at the moment. The national team has qualified for the last two World Cups, advancing to the Round of 16 in 2014 on the back of an exciting, young generation of players making their names with various clubs all across Europe.
Anelka’s only looking for an 18-month deal, and surely the potential benefit far outweighs any negative that could come from allowing a player with Anelka’s profile to play week in and week out in a growing domestic league.
Tottenham Hotspor and Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been suspended for three matches over his congratulatory Tweet to Nicolas Anelka after the striker punctuated a goal with his now infamous “quenelle” celebration.
Assou-Ekotto, the big-haired player on loan to QPR last season, took to social media to high-five Anelka after the then-West Brom player controversially used a French comedian’s incendiary anti-Semitic salute after scoring a goal.
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From the BBC:
The striker claimed it was a show of support to his friend, the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, but the FA ruled that the gesture was “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper”.
Assou-Ekotto used Twitter to congratulate Anelka on his use of the gesture, which its proponents claim is merely anti-establishment.
The defender previously denied wrongdoing and said he was “disappointed” to face disciplinary action over his message.
Perhaps the investigation took a bit too long, but it seems many athletes did not understand the depths of their joke usage. For Assou-Ekotto’s sake, you’d have to hope a pretty decent investigation was made into the matter. In any event, hate getting punished — ignorant or blatant — is alright by me.
With one swoop of a pen, Mumbai City FC courted controversy and added the biggest name in their extremely short history.
Nicolas Anelka signed for the Indian Super League club which is set to begin play in October, but he may have to wait to put on the jersey in an actual match; the English FA asked FIFA to extend Anelka’s quenelle suspension beyond Britain’s borders.
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He has five games left to serve on his suspension.
From the Associated Press:
FIFA was unable to comment on Anelka’s playing status on Monday, which is a public holiday in its home city Zurich.
Anelka had a long career for France and played at Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in a well-traveled club career. His most recent Premier League stint ended suddenly in March after he was suspended by the English FA for performing a gesture which is known in France as a “quenelle” and is regarded as anti-Semitic.
Anelka later announced, in French and via Twitter, that he was leaving West Brom and terminating his contract with immediate effect. The club responded by saying the player’s statement was invalid but that it was firing him for “gross misconduct.”
The ISL would do well to uphold his suspension without FIFA weighing in, but it remains to be seen how it all goes down for the new league.
Anelka’s just the latest name to join the 8-team ISL, with Alessandro Del Piero (Delhi Dynamos), David Trezeguet (Pune City) and David James (Kerala Blasters) signed up to play. James will also coach Kerala, while Inter Milan legend Marco Materazzi begins his management career with Chennai Titans.