Anelka's capital return too taxing for Chelsea

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The Independent Football

If Nicolas Anelka is interested in a return to the Premiership, he will have to look somewhere other than Stamford Bridge. Chelsea said yesterday that although he has twice been offered to them they will not be signing the troubled French striker.

Having departed acrimoniously from Arsenal and Real Madrid, Anelka is now understood to be at loggerheads with Paris St-Germain. Sunderland, who entertain Chelsea this afternoon, have been linked with him, but his agents are now thought to be seeking a return to London.

Arsenal, though, are not interested in taking him on again, while Chelsea's managing director, Colin Hutchinson, said yesterday: "We have no interest in signing Nicolas Anelka as we already have four quality strikers."

Anelka would be well advised to steer clear of Arsenal's opponents this afternoon, Aston Villa, whose manager, John Gregory, is not known for his love of sensitive Frenchmen. David Ginola was banned for three matches after he was sent off against Leicester at the start of the month, and that could be doubled when he answers a misconduct charge next week over an argument with the fourth official.

The Frenchman, sent off after kicking Leicester's Dennis Wise, has apologised to the Football Association, but Gregory said: "It would be nice if he'd apologised to his team- mates and his club [too]."

The Ipswich chairman, David Sheepshanks, has been calculating what relegation would cost his club, who lie bottom of the Premiership.

"This season has so far been intensely frustrating," he said ahead of today's visit of Newcastle. "A return to the Nationwide League would cost us a minimum of £10 million and we would have to cut costs accordingly. It would mean selling players.

Ronaldo, back from a serious knee injury but still in questionable form with Ipswich's midweek conquer-ors, Internazionale, may return to his native Brazil to prepare for the World Cup.

The striker has come off the bench in three Uefa Cup and two Italian league matches since his return from a two-year absence. But with the World Cup months away he is unhappy with a fringe role, and agents from the Brazilian side Palmeiras were reported to be negotiating a loan deal.

Despite failing to take Australia to the World Cup finals, Frank Farina has been offered the job of senior national coach, with the brief of developing a masterplan to make sure the Socceroos appear at the party in 2006.

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