NICOLAS ANELKA flew in yesterday to join Manchester City in a £12m player-swap deal. The City manager Kevin Keegan, conducting business from his holiday base, agreed to pay Paris St-Germain £9m in cash and also give them the Cameroon World Cup defender Lucien Mettomo, valued at £3m.
Anelka and his advisers headed for Manchester to tie up the transfer, 24 hours after Liverpool’s U-turn had seen the striker’s first-choice switch collapse. City will pay Anelka around £2m-a-year, the same money that the former Arsenal striker was willing to accept at Anfield, and he will sign a four-year agreement today.
Anelka is bitter about Gerard Houllier’s treatment of him, making him believe he was signing when they spoke last Friday only to be dumped by phone on Monday. He will become City’s record buy, more than twice what they paid for Jon Macken from Preston three months ago. He is also the second biggest signing made by Keegan, behind Alan Shearer.
Like the deals – completed and imminent – for Sylvain Distin, Marc-Viven Foe and Matias Vicente Vuoso, City are paying in installments. Anelka’s valuation of £12m, added to the moves for Distin, Foe and Vuoso takes City’s « spending » to around £25m. Yet the actual cash outlay is far less, the advantage of buying from abroad on staggered terms.
Moves for the Dutch youngster Tyrone Loran, the Dane Mikkel Bischoff and Peter Schmeichel should complete Keegan’s signings.
The last piece of the Anelka jigsaw was getting Mettomo to agree to join PSG as part of the deal. He found out only yesterday that City were selling him when he was contacted at the Cameroon World Cup squad base in France.
It is a quick exit for Mettomo, who signed for Keegan from St Etienne and was an early success. He fell out of favour when he was dropped and then shunned the end-of-season celebrations.
Unsurprisingly, Paris StGermain reacted angrily. « Gerard Houllier rang me on Monday morning, » said the PSG vice-president, Alain Cayzac. « It was a short and sharp discussion. He told me he didn’t want Nicolas any more. I told him he was not honouring his commitments. I’m very disappointed by Houllier’s behaviour. Liverpool’s attitude was not worthy of a big club. »