Nicolas Anelka insists he is happy at West Brom and that he did nothing wrong with his 'quenelle' gesture amid Lazio interest

Anelka has been charged by the FA and could face a minimum five-match ban if found guilty

Phil Medlicott
Tuesday 28 January 2014 09:23
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka gestures as he celebrates scoring their second goal against West Ham United
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka gestures as he celebrates scoring their second goal against West Ham United

West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has no intention of leaving the club this month, despite the ongoing furore over his 'quenelle' goal celebration - but has made it clear he has an open mind about his future beyond the end of the season.

Reports over the last few days have linked the former France international, who joined Albion in July on a one-year deal that they have the option to extend by another campaign, with Italian outfit Lazio, and on Saturday he wrote on Twitter: "On my way..."

Anelka then posted a series of further messages on Monday in which he signalled his desire to stay with the Baggies.

But the 34-year-old also made reference to the prospect of his situation changing this summer - with retiring at that point appearing to be an option he is giving considerable thought to.

He tweeted: "Thanks to Lazio & all the others clubs who wanted to sign me this last days. See you this summer if I decide to continue...

"But the question is why should I leave my club & England? I'm happy here & I did nothing wrong...

"So now it's time to stay focus on my football with my club & I will try my best on the pitch like I always do!"

The Football Association has charged Anelka over the 'quenelle' pose he struck after scoring against West Ham on December 28, a salute some say is anti-Semitic.

He faces a minimum five-match ban if found guilty. Anelka has denied the charge and requested a personal hearing, which it is understood is unlikely to take place until the end of February.

Shortly after the West Ham game, West Brom released a statement saying they accepted the celebration had caused some offence and that Anelka had been asked to refrain from doing it again, with the player agreeing to do so.

He has continued to play for Albion since and started their last fixture, at home against Everton on January 20, just hours after the Baggies' sponsors Zoopla announced they had decided to end their association with the club.

That game was also new West Brom head coach Pepe Mel's first in charge.

And at a press conference to preview his next - Wednesday's clash with midlands rivals Aston Villa, which will be Albion's first match since Anelka was charged - the Spaniard indicated he intends to keep selecting the frontman.

Asked if Anelka would play against Villa, Mel said: "He has a 99 per cent chance, yes."

West Brom have said their own internal inquiry into the matter will be concluded once the the FA's disciplinary process has finished, and that they will not be making any further comment relating to Anelka's charge until then.

The quenelle was created by a friend of Anelka's, French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism.

Anelka has said his salute, which he described as a "dedication" to Dieudonne, was aimed at the French establishment. The player has also insisted he is neither anti-Semitic nor racist.


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