Nicolas Anelka, suiting up for Les Bleus in last year’s South African World Cup.
Shanghai Shenhua apparently have set their sights on signing none other than Chelsea’s mercurial forward Nicolas Anelka during next January’s transfer window.
The Frenchman’s contract with the Stamford Bridge side expires at the end of this season, and has little chance of being renewed. If he signs with Shenhua, it would be the 32-year-old striker’s 9th club in 15 years.
Shenhua could certainly use a bit of excitement for next year, after recently concluding a losing season that saw only 11 wins in 30 outings.
Anelka is known for being somewhat temperamental and difficult, a fact made known around the world last year, when Le Sulk was outed as one of the leaders of the French revolt against coach (and astrology enthusiast) Raymond Domenech during the World Cup in South Africa.
Telling your coach, “Go get yourself fucked in the ass, you dirty son of a whore”, will certainly do that to your reputation.
The Berlusconi-owned Italian giants AC Milan are also hoping to snag Anelka’s services, in case his Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba won’t be willing to make the move.
We think it might be a healthy and rehabilitating experience for Le Sulk to ply his trade at Hongkou Stadium in front of the ever-vocal mozi (魔子) next year.
Hey, just look at Stephon Marbury, who came to China to play basketball only after tainting his legacy in the NBA with a litany of bad decisions, including: having truck sex with an intern, refusing to play when ordered to by his coach, and generally being a huge disappointment and failure during his stint in New York with his hometown Knicks (then laughingstock of the league).
All of which was outdone by a video uploaded to Youtube, where Marbury filmed himself crying, dancing, and eating vaseline.
After coming to China, Marbury (whose surname in Chinese [马布里/mabuli] is a homonym for 马不理/horse that won’t listen) has reinvented himself and become accepted as a zany fan favorite that’s thrived in the CBA, unlike other players who failed to stick it out (see Wells, Bonzi).
The man even gets profiled by the likes of GQ these days:
“It’s been unbelievable,” he told me. “The fans there, they showed me so much love. They gave me a second chance.” Here, Marbury raised his sleeve to show me where he’d had the characters of his Chinese name—Ma Bu Li—and a heart beside the word CHINA tattooed on his arm. “Two years ago, no one would get near me,” he continued. “Now I got [a major American bank] wanting to invest $50 million in my company. Man, China has changed everything for me. Everything.”
Incidentally, it reminds us of when coach-choker Latrell Sprewell was given a second chance by Knicks fans, after playing his guts out and leading New York to the NBA Finals in 1999.
Anelka has the same opportunity for rehabilitating his image, if he chooses to sign with Shenhua in January.
Then again, he could simply be interested in the money that’s being thrown around Chinese football (and basketball) at the moment.
Australian Joel Griffiths, who just agreed to terms with Shenhua after playing three seasons with Beijing Guo’an, chose to stay in China rather than return home to play in Australia’s A-League, for one simple reason:
”The [Newcastle] Jets came up to a figure that I was happy with. It was only short-term,” he told The Newcastle Herald last week. ”I was talking to Sydney as well but couldn’t really see myself playing there.
”But after going over it with [wife] Bianca we decided to wait and see what happened in China.
”There is a lot of money over there at the moment.”
We’ll keep you updated on whether local fans will get to say bienvenue à Shanghai to Anelka come January. Meanwhile, here’s “Anelka Inclassable”, French rapper Birdy X’s man-crush love letter to the French striker.