Goal.com's Shikharr Chandra analyzes how Juventus' new signing Nicolas Anelka can help solve the striking issues at The Old Lady...
Often referred to as Football's number one mercenary, Anelka ranks second on the list of most expensive football player at a total cost of €134 million, only behind PSG's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After his stint with Arsenal, Anelka looked set to become one of the brightest talents in European football but Le Sulk has failed to live up to that tag and although the striker has chipped in with goals in his 16 year long career on a regular basis.
After recent speculations of Anelka joining the Premier League with interest coming from QPR and West Ham United, he has put an end to those speculations by signing a six-month long deal with Juventus.
|Anelka chose Serie A over EPL
Beppe Marotta, the Juventus general manager, believes the 33 year old could be a valuable addition as the Italian side close in on another Serie A title. The Italian was quoted as saying, "It can be a good move for the short term, then at the end of the season we'll evaluate what must be done." Since the winter break, Juventus have seen their seven point lead cut to just 3 points, the latest disappointment being the 1-1 controversial draw to Genoa where the Old Lady were denied a late penalty appeal. Not only this but they have been ousted from the Coppa Italia after they lost to Lazio in the midweek. This has certainly taken away the aura of invincibility that they had last season.
With Nicklas Bendtner's on-loan signing being nothing short of a disaster due to a combination of injuries and poor form, the Italian club's options in the striking department hasn't been any different to what it was last season. This despite the fact that Juventus' Achilles Heel has been the lack of a traditional number nine who can guarantee them a minimum of 20-goals in a season. They have been heavily reliant on their midfield for goals and the fact that Alessandro Matri was their top scorer with just 10 goals highlights the plight at the club.
Although the reigning Italian Champions completed the signing of Spanish forward Fernando Llorente, the Basque striker will only join them in the summer. Hence the Frenchman's signing as a stop-gap solution before Juventus complete the signing of the Spanish striker should ease their striking worries. And popular consensus suggests that the presence of another world class striker will only help the Italian club in their dominance of the domestic league.
|Anelka's suitors at Juventus
Anelka's signing will mean that Juventus can find a forward who is not cup-tied for the Champions League and whether or not his presence will help them in the competition who have a very good chance of winning the cup, what his presence will do is put pressure on the current bunch of strikers to perform better.
Another positive for Antonio Conte will be Le Sulk's Champions League experience. Having played in Europe's elite competition with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and having won the cup with Los Blancos, Anelka will certainly add a lot to Juventus' attack. Like Fillipo Inzaghi was used during his time at AC Milan when Carlo Ancelotti preferred the partnership of Alberto Gilardino and Ronaldo in the Serie A whereas Super Pippo was used in the more important games.
What will be worrying for Conte, is the fact that the French striker hasn't played since November and although he did train with his ex-boss Carlo Ancelotti at PSG, Anelka's match fitness is a question Conte will need to find an answer to.
Taking a glance at the attacking options for the Italian manager, there are five viable options in that side but still finding the right balance in attack has been a matter of concern. Vucinic, Matri, Quagliarella and Giovinco have scored a total of 22 goals in the league this season whereas Bendtner is yet to add to that tally. Anelka's presence will help Conte as the Frenchman is no doubt a proven goal scorer having scored more than 200 goals in his career.
|“Juventus know what they need. I see that the fans are a little sceptical of him, but he has great class and perhaps just needs a new challenge.”
- Marcelo Lippi
Anelka's presence in the side will provide a more versatile option in the attack as the French striker has the capability of playing anywhere in the attacking third as seen with his time at Chelsea. The forward has played behind the striker and on the wings on numerous occasions when Chelsea had Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba up front. Even though he has been played out of position on numerous occasions, he still averaged 18 goals a season in his three year long spell at Chelsea. But it must be pointed that the striker has netted only 4 goals in his last 39 games, 24 of which were for his new club Shanghai Shenhua.
There is no doubt that the Frenchman will provide a lot of experience for this Juventus side having played more than 600 club games but the question still remains whether he can cope with the rigours of Europe at the age of 34.
Anelka could be introduced by Conte when Juventus play Chievo in a tricky away game and with Napoli closing the gap on Juventus to just 3 points it won't be surprising if the new signing is thrown into action quickly.
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