FOX Soccer Exclusive
Montreal in talks with Nicolas Anelka
The Montreal Impact have already begun making waves as they build their expansion Major League Soccer roster, but it is the major move they are trying to line up that could give the club the biggest boost heading into their inaugural 2012 MLS season.
The Impact have been holding extensive talks with Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka to bring him to MLS, joining a long list of suitors around the world interested in the former French international. Sources in France have told FOX Soccer that Montreal is trying to bring Anelka and make him the marquee French player to appeal French Canadians in Quebec.
The 32-year-old striker has been linked to several European clubs and has reportedly attracted interest in China, but Anelka has insisted publicly that he plans to play out his contract with Chelsea, which expires next summer.
On Saturday, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas confirmed that Anelka and teammate Alex had handed formally requested transfers, requests the club said it will honor.
According to sources in France familiar with the discussions between Montreal and Anelka’s representatives, there have been talks about bringing Anelka to MLS this winter, but the sides are still some distance apart financially.
A proven striker who has plied his trade with Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea (among other top European clubs), Anelka would step into MLS as one of the league’s marquee acquisitions, joining former France teammate Thierry Henry on the league's list of top strikers.
Anelka has seen his playing time with Chelsea diminish this season under new manager Andre Villas-Boas, with Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge currently ahead of him in the club’s forward pecking order.
Montreal currently has Justin Braun and Brian Ching on its roster as forwards, but with the Impact expected to trade Ching back to the Houston Dynamo (assuming the sides can reach an agreement), the Impact are clearly in need of forwards. A marquee striker like Anelka would not only fill a glaring team need, it would also give the team the type of marketable star the club could use to help gain a foothold further in Montreal.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.
More Stories From Ives Galarcep