Kevin Keegan announced yesterday that Nicolas Anelka can leave Manchester City for £8m after the club's patience was finally stretched past its limits on Tuesday when the striker refused to take a fitness test before the Arsenal match.
The City manager admitted that he was "disappointed" with Anelka's reaction before the match and said that if a club was to come in with a "big bid" for the 25-year-old then he would be prepared to let the player he signed for £13m in 2002 leave.
The valuation placed on Anelka is likely to deter most Premiership sides, although Liverpool, who took the striker on loan before he joined City, look like the key contenders. Their plans rely on whether they can sign Fernando Morientes from Real Madrid.
Keegan said: "I don't think there is any doubt that if any one put in a really big bid for Nicolas we would sell him and use the money to strengthen the team. The only reason we would sell is if we were offered silly money but I certainly haven't had a phone call about Nicolas."
City, who have debts of around £62m, still have £5m of Anelka's transfer fee to pay to Paris St-Germain.
Keegan added: "He has been our key player and our top goalscorer for the last two seasons so people should not think that they can pinch him out of here or steal him away without paying top value.
"The point is that we would have to replace him, otherwise he stays and gets on with seeing out his contract which is another two and a half years."
Keegan said that Anelka, who still has a back problem, will not play against Oldham in the FA Cup third round today.Reuse content