Anelka rejects Lazio offer, aims to stay with Baggies

West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has announced he wants to stay with the club for the rest of the season.

Oussama Assaidi of Stoke City and Nicolas Anelka

The Football Association has charged the Frenchman over his controversial 'quenelle' goal celebration against West Ham on December 28, alleging he made an abusive, indecent, insulting or improper gesture.

His critics insist that the gesture is anti-Semitic and an inverted Nazi salute.

Anelka, who has denied the charge and requested a personal hearing, faces a minimum five-match ban if found guilty as the FA further allege that his conduct represented an aggravated breach in that it included a reference to ethnic origin, race, religion or belief.

There has been uncertainty over the 34-year-old's future. He wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday, "On my way...", while reports have linked him with a potential move to Italian side Lazio.

But writing on Twitter on Monday afternoon, Anelka made it clear he does not want to leave Albion - in the current transfer window at least.

He said: "Thanks to Lazio & all the others clubs who wanted to sign me this last (few) days. See you this summer if I decide to continue...

"But the question is why should I leave my club & England? I'm happy here & I did nothing wrong...

"So now it's time to stay focus on my football with my club & I will try my best on the pitch like I always do!"

Anelka joined West Brom on a one-year deal, with a further year's option in the club's favour, last summer.

Shortly after the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park in which he struck the 'quenelle' pose, Albion released a statement saying they accepted the celebration had caused some offence and that Anelka had been asked to refrain from doing it again - with the player agreeing to do so.

They have continued to select him since and he started their last game, a 1-1 home league draw with Everton on January 20, just hours after the Baggies' sponsors Zoopla announced they had decided to end their association with the club.

That match was also new West Brom head coach Pepe Mel's first in charge.

And at a press conference on Monday to preview his next - Wednesday's league away clash with midlands rivals Aston Villa, which will be Albion's first game since Anelka was charged - the Spaniard indicated he intends to keep selecting the frontman.

Asked if Anelka would play against Villa, Mel said: "He has a 99 per cent chance, yes.

"I have already spoken with Anelka and the only thing he wants to do is help the team beat Aston Villa.

"I think he showed against Everton that he has absolutely no problem.

"The most important thing for me as the head coach is his performance on the pitch.

"Stephane Sessegnon (who is injured) is the only player who is not available - everyone else is available and Anelka, for me, played well against Everton."

Lord Ouseley, the chairman of football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, has criticised West Brom over their handling of the affair, saying Albion "should have taken much more responsibility in recognising that the action was offensive" and suggesting that "if your player misbehaves you have an obligation to take action, regardless of what the FA does."

When asked about that by Press Association Sport, a West Brom spokesman said the club will not be making any further comment relating to Anelka's charge while the situation remains ongoing.

In his press conference, Mel said: "I think the club must be respectful towards the decision taken by the FA and look towards (what is) the best for Nicolas Anelka and for the club."

It is understood that Anelka's disciplinary hearing is unlikely to take place until the end of February.

The quenelle was created by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.

Former France international Anelka is a friend of Dieudonne's and the player has said his salute - which he described as a "dedication" to the comedian - was aimed at the French establishment.

Anelka has also insisted he is neither anti-Semitic nor racist.



comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular News

News & Update