The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, insists that his striker Nicolas Anelka will not be sold in January despite his lack of goals. The Frenchman faces former club Arsenal tomorrow having failed to score in the Premiership since his club record £8m signing from Fenerbahce this summer.
Anelka's lack of goals has led to speculation that he may leave, with the French champions, Lyon, among the clubs supposedly showing an interest. But Allardyce said there had been no contact from the Lyon manager, Gérard Houllier, or the club president, Jean-Michel Aulas, whose public admiration for Anelka brought a swift rebuke.
"If the president of Lyon did say he was interested in Nicolas without speaking to us, then he is out of order," said Allardyce. "We have had no contact with anyone about Nicolas. Even if we did, the answer would be no." Allardyce also denied reports linking club captain Kevin Nolan with Everton, although he did admit approaching the mid-season transfer window with some trepidation.
"Transfer windows worry me, especially if it is a big football club who is being linked with my player," he said.
"It is a great difficulty for me because it could end up leading to a fall-out with a player who is doing well for us at that particular moment in time. But speculation is bound to surface more and more at this time or year and there is very little we can do about it."
Allardyce's dealings in the transfer market have been so prolific, Bolton are usually the club being linked with players. Former England captain David Beckham is the latest name to be raised, rumours Allardyce dismissed as "pie in the sky".
After seeing his side lose five of their last six games, Allardyce has more immediate concerns, with champions Chelsea due at the Reebok four days after Arsenal's visit.
He did reveal Anelka's lack of goals had caused concern, given Bolton's poor recent form, which has seen them drop from third to sixth in the table. "Nicolas' overall contribution has been very good but because we are not winning matches people are bound to make more of the fact he has not scored," he said.
"It would be a fantastic game for Nicolas to score his first Premiership goal for us against Arsenal. But if he gets one, it has to be the winner, otherwise it does not mean anything."
Bolton have an impressive recent record against Arsenal. They have not been beaten by the Gunners at home in the League since 2002 and were 30 seconds away from recording three straight wins against them last season.
Bolton's robust approach has led to complaints from Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, but Allardyce said: "I think we have found the secret of playing against them. Most Premiership clubs who play the way we do against them get results and hopefully it will work again. We will get in amongst them, close them down, get in their faces."
Kevin Davies is bound to be a key figure, although Allardyce is concerned at the lack of protection for his "honest" front-man. "People keep talking about simulation but it doesn't work the other way round," he said. "Kevin has never simulated anything but he gets over-punished for his physical approach."