Keegan is powerless to prevent Anelka exit

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Kevin Keegan, the Manchester City manager, has confirmed that any decision to sell Nicolas Anelka during the January transfer window will be out of his hands.

Kevin Keegan, the Manchester City manager, has confirmed that any decision to sell Nicolas Anelka during the January transfer window will be out of his hands.

Speculation is rife that Barcelona could launch a sizeable offer next month as they look to cover the loss of their injured striker Henrik Larsson. Liverpool, with whom Anelka had a loan spell before joining City, are also expected to be in the market for a forward before the resumption of the Champions' League in February.

Anelka, who will be on the bench for City against Spurs today after recovering from an ankle injury, fuelled the rumours with a lengthy magazine interview in which he claimed he was hoping for a chance to play on the Champions' League stage again.

Keegan insists he does not want to sell his record £13m signing. But with City over £60m in debt, the former England coach accepts that the chairman, John Wardle, and the chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, will study any viable offer put before them.

"There are a limited number of clubs in the Champions' League," said Keegan. "If one of them came along and put a massive bid on the table, the board would have to look at it.

"I am not looking for any replacements during the transfer window because I don't intend selling anyone. But if someone such as the chairman, who I have a fantastic relationship with and respect totally, says we have to do it, that is the way it will be."

So far, there has been no approach to City for Anelka - and Keegan hopes it will stay that way for the next two months. Having had a chance to read a full transcript of the Frenchman's controversial article, the City manager is convinced he said little more than he would have expected from any of his players and his omission from today's starting line-up is not to be viewed as a punishment.

"It was a lengthy article and what it contained and what we have seen in Britain are two different things," said Keegan. "He said he loves the club, likes playing here but would like to play in the Champions' League. If you asked Danny Mills, David James or Shaun Wright-Phillips I am sure they would say the same. You shouldn't assume that would mean they wanted to leave."

Keegan also backed Stuart Pearce's aim of succeeding him. The former England full-back has spurned managerial offers to remain on City's coaching staff and on Thursday revealed his desire to replace Keegan, who will step down in 18 months when his contract expires.

Keegan said he has been grooming Pearce since he moved from West Ham in 2001.

"Stuart is ambitious, so you don't have to be from another planet to work out the reason why he has stayed on here," Keegan said. "The last 18 months have been about grooming him to be a manager somewhere. He is certainly someone who will do very well in management, so why not at Manchester City?"

Comments