Reports surfaced again this week that French Muslim footballer Nicolas Anelka was close to signing with a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the United States this past summer and is still interested in joining the league. His current club, Chelsea Football Club of the English Premier League, published quotes from the Anelka on its website stating his desire to remain with the Premier League team.
â€œI am linked everywhere but â€“ when you are linked â€“ it doesnâ€™t mean you want to leave,â€ Anelka told the website. â€œI like Chelsea and first of all wanted to stay thatâ€™s why I am still here.â€
The 32-year-old strikerâ€™s contract runs out next summer and current manager Andre Villas-Boas has hinted that this may indeed be Anelkaâ€™s last year with the club. â€œI am happy here, I like the club, everyone here, and, after, I will see what happens. It is not only down to me,â€ Anelka told the clubâ€™s website regarding a possible transfer in either the winter or summer transfer windows. â€œI have been here almost four years now, and I am pleased with the way it has been. It could have been even better but I am still happy.â€
Anelka was reportedly close to signing with an MLS franchise located on the West Coast, according to one of his agents. Although a deal never materialized, Anelkaâ€™s camp confirmed to the website Goal.com that their client is still interested in moving to the North American league. â€œI can confirm that Nicolas is still possibly interested in pursuing an MLS career,â€ said Michael Wiesenfeld, who is part of European Football Group, an organization which will represent Anelkaâ€™s marketing rights should he join MLS. â€œHe got very close to landing a nice contract with a team on the West Coast in August. He also has opportunities elsewhere in the world.â€
Anelka originally joined Chelsea from Bolton inn January of 2008 for 15 million pounds. He has made 344 appearances in the Premier League and scored 123 goals to date for Arsenal, Liverpool, Bolton and Chelsea. But Chelseaâ€™s abundance of scoring forwards, and Anelkaâ€™s advancing age, make him more expendable than ever. And with his career with the French national team likely over, a period with MLS would likely be Anelkaâ€™s swan song.