The birth of ‘Le Sulk’: Nicolas Anelka’s Arsenal legacy, 20 years on from his move to Real Madrid

Nicolas Anelka Arsenal Real Madrid 1999

From a financial point of view at least, Nicolas Anelka's two seasons at Highbury arguably make him the best pieces of transfer business Arsenal have ever done. After exploiting a transfer legal loophole, the Gunners nabbed the rangy, raga-haired teenage striker from Paris Saint-Germain for a mere £500,000 at the tail end of the 1996/97 campaign. Two years later, Arsenal vice chairman David Dein sanctioned Anelka's sale to Real Madrid for £23 million; an appreciation of 4,600%. 

The hefty sum – reinvested in the club’s new training ground and the signings of Thierry Henry and Davor Suker – went some way towards calming Arsene Wenger’s annoyance at losing one of his international bright young things. But the shockwaves emanating from Anelka’s hugely controversial departure were felt well beyond Highbury’s Art Deco marble halls. 

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