Football: Arsenal blamed for Anelka saga

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GORDON TAYLOR, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, yesterday said that Arsenal should shoulder some of the blame for the Nicolas Anelka saga after teaching him to put money first when they lured him away from Paris St-Germain.

The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, provoked outrage in France when he snatched Anelka, then 17, away from PSG for pounds 500,000 in February 1997. Now the 20-year-old French international and his brothers, who are acting as his advisors, are demanding a big-money move to Lazio. And Taylor now claims Arsenal's problems with Anelka may be in part self-inflicted.

"This was a young player who was playing in France. Under the normal system, he would have stayed with PSG," said Taylor. "He was taken away from there by Arsenal, offered a great deal of money and given a great deal of money. His brothers are his agents and suddenly they see a world where they can make more money. They've been taught that that is the way of the world."

But Anelka will not have the backing of the PFA if he attempts to buy out his contract with the Gunners. "We can't encourage players breaking contracts unilaterally," Taylor said.

Michael Bridges has denied demanding excessive wages from Tottenham after joining Leeds in a deal believed to be worth pounds 5m. The 20-year-old met with Spurs officials earlier this month after being transfer-listed by Sunderland, but insists that his rejection of Spurs' offer was just to allow him to speak to other interested parties.

"I have joined Leeds because I believe that they are assembling the best group of young players in the country and I can see us challenging for honours," he said.