Souness lines up Anelka

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The former Arsenal and Manchester City forward is one of the names under consideration by Graeme Souness as the manager seeks to replace Craig Bellamy and Patrick Kluivert.

Souness was today warding off speculation linking Jermaine Jenas with Arsenal, admitting though that a �20million bid, which is highly unlikely, might be hard to refuse.

He is more interested in recruiting than the selling of his best players, and 26-year-old Anelka, currently with Turkish club Fenerbahce, is understood to have been sounded out as Newcastle look for the right man to partner skipper Alan Shearer in his final season.

Anelka certainly has the pedigree and, having sold the troublesome duo of Bellamy and Laurent Robert, Souness may have to make allowances for a player whose attitude has been questioned more than once during his career.

Newcastle begin their season in Slovakia on Sunday with an Intertoto Cup clash with Dubnica.

They are preparing for the tie while attempting to bring new players to St James' Park and attempting to stave off an expected approach from Arsenal for Jenas.

Both Souness and chairman Freddy Shepherd have insisted that the 22-year-old is not for sale.

"I am not going to comment on speculation," Souness said today.

"The only thing I will say is we are not in the business of selling our best players.

"We are not in the business of selling our best players and I am not going to talk about it. We have a big game to try to concentrate on, on Sunday.

"It is not going to be an easy game for us because of the lack of fitness we will have and the fitness that the other team will have, so that really is what we are concentrating on, not speculating who is leaving or who is arriving."

But pressed on the matter, he added: "For �20million, the chairman might be tempted."

Jenas has been left out of the 18-man party which will leave for Slovakia tomorrow morning.

He, along with Stephen Carr, Shay Given and Jean-Alain Boumsong, only returned to pre-season training on Monday after international duty extended their seasons into June, and that is the given reason for his omission.

The Magpies face a tough test if they are to qualify for the UEFA Cup via the Intertoto competition, with Deportivo La Coruna and either Lazio or Marseille potentially standing in their way. Of the Dubnica match, Souness said: "That is going to be a very difficult game for us.

"The fact that nobody knows about this team, or no-one has heard of this team or nobody knows anything about the players that play for this team, people may regard it as a formality - it is not a formality.

"This is going to be a very difficult game for us simply because they have been back six weeks and have played two competitive games; we have been back a fortnight and played no games.

"Two weeks' training in not enough training to get you fit to play competitive games, so this will be a very difficult game, combined with the fact that we have Emre and Scott Parker not available for the game, JJ is not available for the game, Stephen Carr is not available for the game and as we are sitting here, I think Shay will only be on the bench.

"Titus (Bramble, who has a fractured elbow) is obviously not involved - he was been a big player for us in the last six months of last season - so make no mistake about it, this is a difficult game for us."

Comments