Crystal Palace striker Marouane Chamakh has admitted that a blackmail threat, which involved a police investigation in January 2011 “weighed him down” and affected his performances for Arsenal.
“It was not easy for me because things about my private life were disclosed,” Chamakh revealed in an interview with L’Equipe. “The tabloids did not have the right to publish photos or videos. The story weighed me down. People tried to blackmail me. I filed a complaint; the police intervened and found these people.”
The 29-year-old made a bright start to his Arsenal career, scoring 11 goals in his first 22 appearances for the Gunners after joining on a free transfer from Bordeaux in July 2010, but Moroccan’s form suffered with the blackmail case going on behind the scenes, and then Robin van Persie’s return from injury forced him out of the first team reckoning.
He added: "I wish I had more time to play at Arsenal. I respect the coach’s decisions, but I didn't always get my chance.
“With the system of one up front there was no comparison between him [Van Persie] and me. I respect the choice of the manager, but I didn’t really have my chance. I may have been too stubborn to want to stay too long at Arsenal.’
Chamakh then moved on loan to West Ham in January 2013, but he only made three Premier League appearances for the Hammers and failed to score. He has called his decision to join West Ham a “bad choice” and has blasted manager Sam Allardyce for breaking promises.
“I made a bad choice. It didn’t go well at all. The manager promised me that with Andy Carroll's injury, I was going to be able to play. He did not keep his word at all,” Chamakh said.
“Alou Diarra had warned me. But I just did what I wanted and went anyway. That’s why I took a bit of time to say ‘yes’ to Crystal Palace. I didn't want to make the same mistake twice.”
Despite offers from teams in other countries, Chamakh has no regrets about staying in England for another season, after signing a one-year deal at Palace last month.
“There were several opportunities, in Greece, Turkey, Spain, France and even the Middle East. But I preferred to stay one more season in England because I love the league.”
“Do I regret moving to England? Not at all, even if it didn't go as I had hoped. But I don’t regret it because I found what I came for - the league, the atmosphere."
“It is just wonderful, even at a small stadium like Crystal Palace’s. This is what I want - just the game in a great atmosphere.”
“It will be difficult not to end the season in the bottom three but if we apply ourselves and show solidarity, we can stay in the Premier League.”