BLOG ITALIA
Friday February 8 2013
When Juve first wanted Anelka

Nicolas Anelka joined Juventus last month over a decade after the Old Lady first tried to sign him. Antonio Labbate looks back at that failed bid of 1999.

It was a time when the fax machine had a purpose. The one plugged into the wall at Piazza Crimea rang, beeped, clicked into action and spat out the communiqué. It was marked for the attention of Juventus director general Luciano Moggi and consisted of four brief bullet-pointed sentences.

·      Juventus are not participating in the Champions League.

·      Lazio, potentially, are technically superior to Juventus.

·      Rome is a better place than Turin.

·      Turin, as advised by his French international colleagues, is a difficult city to settle into.

The note had been sent on behalf of Nicolas Anelka, the then Arsenal forward who was desperately trying to find a new club who could meet his healthy financial needs. It was his way of telling the Turin giants that he had no intention of moving to the Old Lady of Italian football.

Moggi had set his sights on the French youngster in a bid to rejuvenate a side who had just finished seventh in Serie A – their lowest placing since Gigi Maifredi’s promise of champagne football, at the start of the 1990s, turned out to be bitterly flat. And Anelka was openly on the market.

Aged just 20, he was one of the hottest young attacking talents in circulation and it was no secret that he was looking for a Highbury exit. In May of 1999, the former Paris Saint-Germain kid had made it clear that he wanted out of London – no matter what his agent brother Claude officially announced. “His future is still at Arsenal,” the latter stated on the 19th of the same month. “He will be with the club next year, I can guarantee that.”

By that stage, Claude was understood to have already held talks with Real Madrid, but there was strong Italian interest too. Juventus were keen, but they faced stiff competition from Sergio Cragnotti’s Lazio, a side who had just finished as Serie A runners-up. The Biancocelesti, bossed by Sven Goran Eriksson, hired Italian agent Vincenzo Morabito to act as their intermediary.

“Juventus wanted Nicolas, but there was already a deal in place with Lazio,” Morabito recently told Mediaset. “Juve had an advantage over us in terms of an agreement with Arsenal, but they couldn’t close the transfer as they needed the consent of the player. A deal with Juventus was dead even before talks started.

“Some of the things that occurred that summer were like from a mystery novel,” continued the representative. “His agents arrived in Italy for a meeting with Moggi. Fearful that they would be spotted in Turin, Moggi organised a summit at a motorway service station. I told Anelka’s entourage to go as to not arouse suspicion, but when they got there they found that Luciano had sent poor Roberto Bettega instead.”

When it became clear that Anelka wanted Lazio, Moggi publicly claimed that the forward was never a target of his Bianconeri. “We’re not interested,” he stated. “We’re happy with our strikers and happy that he is joining Lazio. We simply met his agents out of courtesy – and that was transformed by people into the theory that we wanted to sign him.” Juventus also held talks with Arsenal, officially to discuss Thierry Henry’s switch, but Morabito insists that Anelka was primarily the topic of conversation.

With La Signora out of the running, Lazio were in pole position even if the messiest transfer saga of the summer continued to take more twists and turns than the Magic Bullet Theory. After allegations of illegal approaches and a multitude of ignored ultimatums by all interested parties, it took until July 25 for the Biancocelesti to agree an initial £21m transfer fee with Arsenal. Anelka was seemingly theirs, but the move was never completed after a last-minute disagreement with his people. A week later and Le Sulk was a Real Madrid player.

Now, almost 14 years on, Anelka has finally put pen to paper on a deal with Juventus. The difference is that back then he was considered as a star of the future, today he’s being labelled by his critics as a wasted talent of the past. He’s got five months to have his say. 

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
For all this comments above fingering agnst Le Sulk i think he has been signed just a cover for our first choice forwards of this season the likes of Vucinic, Giovinco and Matri..i think it is not really bad business as the fan's think though..i am Juve fan and i know that with his experience especially coming on in the 2nd half in chamopins league or Serie-A he will make an impact..Anelka is not finished still and i think he can do a good job for us and we can see the of Lippi too
on the 10th February, 2013 at 9:52pm
No point in letting go Del Piero, who at his age is still great, just to bring in a has-been, or never-was, like Anelka.
on the 10th February, 2013 at 9:39pm
Juventus should of extended del piero's contract.
Juventus legend!!
Bendtner and Anelka shouldn't be wearing the Juventus shirt.
The board need to seriously rethink their strategy for the following season .
Hopefully I am wrong and shouldn't be worried .
Juvenrus football club is a BIG CLUB!!
on the 10th February, 2013 at 2:25am
Juve deperately need pirlo fit for tuesday, fingers crossed. And hope Vucinic is ok too. Its a big test Juve on tuesday, but for the good of our league its a test you must pass. Lets all get behind italian teams this week regardless of who we support. Forza roma, lets start with a positive result tomorrow, thank goodness de rossi and stek back. Will be tough against Icardi and Lopez but we can do it. Need a good result before saturday against Juve, hopefully tuesday game will take it out of them
on the 9th February, 2013 at 8:09pm
Juve have really messed up in the strikers department... Del Piero and Trezeguet OUT while both still scoring for Boriello, Bendtner and Anelka IN.... Awful business.

We shouldnt forget that Del Piero scored some significant goals last season on route to the scudetto. He was still a game changer!
on the 8th February, 2013 at 9:55pm
in respect of juve's transfer policy, im growing bored of these lame stirkers and lame results. conte and his man marotta better sort themselves out. signing over the hill morons like anelka, we are juve not milan, we should be signing real players not begging other european teams for their leftovers (like milan begging for ronaldhino and fat ronaldo once their careers were over).

I think we should fork out some money on tevez.
on the 8th February, 2013 at 7:39pm
Ero, have you seen your joke of a milan team? your directors treat you like dirt but you dumb milan fans love it. its true what they say, to be a milan fan, you need to be a passive individual, easily led by your superiors. kind of like a dog and his master. galliani tells milan fans he will sign eveyrone in the world and wont sell his bets players but does the complete opposite, yet guys like Ero love the lies and continue to worship him. fools
on the 8th February, 2013 at 7:37pm
Yes Turn is not Rome which is perfect, but it's a beautiful baroque city with a perfect stadium.
on the 8th February, 2013 at 3:00pm
Hahahahaha that's all I can think off the juve transfer policy, yes I am a Milan fan our policy hasn't been the best but I guarantee you with the same core squad we have now with a few more additions at the back we will be a young hungry force in world football again.

Our 3 strikers combined age is what 60 years old, and juve 96 for ur 3 fwds u literally plan for tomorrow but not the next season and seasons after. Milan is the way forward especially with this new transfer strategy. Forza Milan
on the 8th February, 2013 at 2:41pm
I can understand the need to save money. However if the finances was ever an issue why not stick with Del Piero rather than bringing in Bendtner & Anelka. I can see the majority of us disagree with Juve's transfer policies especially as some other teams in January managed to bring in real talent. Marotta keeps saying we are keeping our eyes open for great signings all the while other clubs keep bringing in great young players.

I am beyond frustrated!!
on the 8th February, 2013 at 2:35pm
Iagree with Ade,nobody should get a second offer from Juve!If the committment wasn`t there before why should we accept someplayer whose on the downslope of his career.Most players appreciate the offer of being a Bianconero and so they should we must never become an "alternative"I have seen Llorente and I feel he can become a Really big player for us.
on the 8th February, 2013 at 2:24pm
Agree with all the comments below, I would have kept both Trezegol & Del Piero rather then sign Toni, Boriello, Bendtner & now Anelka.

People think Llorente is a top signing LoL they gona be in for a shock and if we don't sign Jovetic or Higuian next season then we are doomed...

With regards to the article I'm glad Juve didn't sign Anelka, given how the rest of his career turned out to be & we probably would have never gotten David Trezegol !!!
on the 8th February, 2013 at 2:16pm
Del Piero wanted to stay at Juventus. Del Piero guarantees goals. We waste our time with the likes of Luca Toni, Borriello, Bendtner, and Anelka. For this type of transfer, perhaps we are better off recalling Vincenzo Iaquinta from the wilderness of training by himself.
on the 8th February, 2013 at 12:56pm
Juve have really messed up in the strikers department... Del Piero and Trezeguet OUT while both still scoring for Boriello, Bendtner and Anelka IN.... Awful business.

We shouldnt forget that Del Piero scored some significant goals last season on route to the scudetto. He was still a game changer!
on the 8th February, 2013 at 12:47pm
Mediocrity seems to be the new bar set for Juve as far as quality strikers go now? The club need to make acquisitions of players that will add a major sense of purpose to surge for titles both in Europe & at home but this is just a waste of contract paper thereby i have to agree with Forza Juve in that aspect even though Llorente is not as bad as Bendtner or a man who snubbed this great club in the past now wants to wipe his failed career on our historic epilogue...Juventus NEED to do better!
on the 8th February, 2013 at 12:16pm
Why did Marotta sign Bendtner? Why has Marotta now signed Anelka? Is Juve acting as the international job centre for rubbish forwards who believe their own hype? They should NEVER have let Del Piero and Trezeguet leave! Llorente is good, but he's not enough - either Marotta backs up his big talk and promises or he should be fired! This is Juventus, NOT Sampdoria (no offence to Samp fans :P).
on the 8th February, 2013 at 11:01am
If we'd gotten Anelka at the time,perhaps the many volumes of Juventus history filled by another French Forward would never have been written? With the benefit of hindsight I'm happy how it turned-out. Anelka now has 6 months to write his own Juventus history. A chapter? A page? A phrase? A footnote?
on the 8th February, 2013 at 10:52am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.