Gerrard backs Anfield move for Anelka

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The Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, has backed the idea of a January move for Manchester City's controversial forward Nicolas Anelka to Anfield.

The Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, has backed the idea of a January move for Manchester City's controversial forward Nicolas Anelka to Anfield.

The French striker was a success at Liverpool during his spell on loan at the club in 2002 and it was a surprise when he was not offered a permanent deal by the then manager, Gérard Houllier.

The City manager, Kevin Keegan, stepped in to sign Anelka from Paris St-Germain in a record £13m deal, but the relationship between the pair has been strained by a recent magazine article in which the striker suggested he wanted a move to a "bigger" club.

Anelka was booed by a section of the City support when he came on as a substitute during Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Tottenham, and received little sympathy from his manager, who said he had alienated the fans. With debts of £62m due to be confirmed to the City annual general meeting today, leaving Keegan with none of the money he says is required to avoid a relegation battle, the transfer of Anelka, even on a short-term basis, could release some cash as well as unburdening the squad of a problem player.

Barcelona, who have lost Henrik Larsson for the rest of the season through injury, are one potential destination. Liverpool, whose forward Djibril Cissé will not play again this term either after breaking his leg at Blackburn, are, like Barcelona, in the market for a striker who is not cup-tied in Europe. Anelka fits the bill perfectly and Gerrard would like to see the 25-year-old back in a red shirt.

"I remember a few years ago when we were going for the title, Everton came to Anfield and nearly turned us over," Gerrard said. "We were grateful to Nicolas Anelka that day. He was great for us when he was here. He was on fire for us at that time. He is another one of the best strikers in the world I have played with - and he proved it that day."

Better news for City fans is that Richard Dunne is ready to commit his long-term future to the club. The Irish centre-back has got his career back on track over the last two years after being threatened with the sack by Keegan and the Newcastle manager, Graeme Souness, has been among those who have been impressed by the consistency of Dunne's recent performances. There has been talk of a sizeable bid being lodged by the Magpies when the transfer window opens next month.

But while Dunne is flattered to be linked with Newcastle, he said he has no intention of leaving City. Early negotiations over a new deal with City have already begun and the 25-year-old Dubliner said he would be disappointed if he did not extend his four-year stay with the club.

"My agent was in last week for a first meeting and hopefully something will be sorted out as soon as possible," he said. "I definitely want to stay at City because I have really improved as a player here. It is nice to be linked with top clubs but the important thing is this one and what we do. I really enjoy it at Manchester City and I want to keep that going."

Keegan should receive some more good news tomorrow when the former England Under-21 keeper Nicky Weaver makes his long awaited return in a reserve game against Blackburn. Weaver has missed virtually three full seasons after a succession of knee injuries, which eventually required pioneering cartilage transplant surgery earlier this year.

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