Sam Allardyce insists he can cope with the enigma that is Nicolas Anelka. The Bolton Wanderers manager is hoping that Fenerbahce will finally relent and allow Anelka to return to the Premiership after 18 months in Turkey.
Anelka, who has already had three stints in England - with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City - is unquestionably talented, but there are misgivings over his attitude. Yet Allardyce is convinced he can deal with the 27-year-old.
"I want to be presented with a player who has great ability, great strengths and is top quality," Allardyce said. "If there is a side of his character that causes concern then you have to learn about that side as much, if not more, than the good side. You find out why an individual behaves the way they do. If you are a good manager, and I believe I am, you believe you can deal with it before it becomes a problem. At the moment though, we do not know for definite whether he is going to join us or not."
With Bolton keen to sign the striker and Anelka convinced he is about to commit himself to a four-year contract, the only stumbling block appears to be the unwillingness of the Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim to sanction the transfer. Reports in France suggest that Bolton are willing to pay around £8m for the striker. "The deal has been negotiated for some time but we can't quite get the president of Fenerbahce to put the rubber stamp on it," Allardyce added.
* The Dutch forward Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink has told Celtic they will have to improve the terms of his contract offer if he is to join them. Celtic and PSV Eindhoven have agreed a fee but Vennegoor of Hesselink said yesterday: "There is a big difference between what Celtic are offering and what I'm wanting."