Anelka demands Chelsea transfer

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The Independent Online

Bolton have contacted Chelsea in an attempt to get them to bid officially for Nicolas Anelka and bring the transfer saga around the French striker towards an end, it emerged yesterday. Anelka spoke publicly for the first time about his desire to move to Stamford Bridge this month.

Bolton's asking price of around 15m was rejected by Chelsea, who are not expected to do any business until the start of next week, when their chief executive, Peter Kenyon, returns from a break. With Manchester City also interested in the 28-year-old, Bolton had hoped to start an auction after Anelka admitted that he would also consider an offer from one of his former clubs.

Anelka is Chelsea's first-choice target, although he is by no means their only interest in this transfer window. They are determined not to pay over the odds for Anelka, who was Bolton's record signing at 8m in the summer of 2006. The Frenchman's first public pronouncement on the subject is regarded as a way of forcing the issue.

Anelka, who had been worried that he would just be used as a stopgap while Didier Drogba plays at the African Nations Cup this month, told the French newspaper L'Equipe he wanted to leave Bolton. "The chairmen [of Bolton and Chelsea] are discussing it," he said. "I really hope it happens, and especially that I am eligible to play in the Champions League. But until the contract is signed and I am presented to the press in my new shirt, nothing is done."

He added that he would not turn down a move to City. "I want to go to a bigger club and that's what City have become under a manager such as [Sven Goran] Eriksson, who I was ready to join in 1999 at Lazio."

Anelka added: "Staying at Bolton, where I am very happy, wouldn't be a punishment either."

Anelka signed a four-year contract at the start of the season which Chelsea would be obliged to match. Bolton made the first move in contacting Chelsea but, with improved results for the last financial year due out next month, the Stamford Bridge club do not wish to be seen to be overspending on transfers.

Chelsea's Wayne Bridge has been the subject of interest from Liverpool. Any move for the England left-back would be extremely ambitious. Chelsea are also expected to sign the Lokomotiv Moscow defender Branislav Ivanovic, although reports that he was having his medical at Stamford Bridge yesterday are understood to have been incorrect.

The 23-year-old Serb, who has also been a long-term target for Manchester United, would provide much needed cover for the injured John Terry and the suspended Ricardo Carvalho.