Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anelka Still United Goal

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anelka Still United Goal

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Newcastle United could re-ignite their bid to lure Nicolas Anelka to St James's Park in the New Year as Graeme Souness attempts to put the final touches to a squad fit for a European challenge.

The Journal understands that Newcastle's manager is hoping to add to his side's attacking options when the transfer window opens in January and he has not lost his interest in Anelka.

The Magpies embarked on a long, but ultimately, unsuccessful chase of the French international in the summer when his Turkish club Fenerbahce refused to sell the volatile forward, even though he had intimated to Souness and other United officials that he wanted to return to the Premiership.

Souness' irritation at missing out on one of his main transfer targets was quickly relieved with the pounds 9.5m arrival of Spanish international forward Albert Luque and one of the most memorable transfer coups in the history of English football when Michael Owen snubbed a return to former club Liverpool to move to Tyneside.

But, United's manager is still keen to strengthen his squad in vital areas, with Anelka back on his wanted list alongside Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge.

Newcastle still lack the required strength in depth up front to challenge the leading clubs at home and abroad, ensuring Anelka has remained an attractive target.

Alan Shearer, who will retire at the end of the season, was supposed to be used sparingly this season, but Souness has had to rely on the 35-year-old more than he had envisaged because of a crippling injury list.

And, with Owen also missing because of another niggling strain at Chelsea last weekend, Newcastle were forced to rely on Shola Ameobi as a lone striker, with only Michael Chopra providing cover on the bench. At 26, Anelka, who was recalled to the French squad for the first time in three years for their recent round of international friendlies, still has the best years of his career ahead of him, as well as the sort of blistering pace Souness feels is essential to the style of football he wants his sides to play.

He also has the significant advantage of having previously played with Owen when on loan at Anfield from Paris-Saint Germain in 2002 and would be expected to line-up alongside the England international in a 4-4-2 formation with Luque on the left wing and either Nolberto Solano or Kieron Dyer on the right. …

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