Arsenal: Neymar could be Nicolas Anelka 2.0
Arsenal under Arsene Wenger were a different animal, especially during the early years. The Frenchman led them to three Premier League titles during his first eight years, while eventually winning the FA Cup seven times.
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It wasn’t just the way they played that revitalised English football, but also the players they signed, with the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Nicolas Anelka all starring under the enigmatic manager.
With current boss Mikel Arteta trying to bring the Premier League trophy back to north London for the first time since Wenger in 2003/04, could he perhaps repeat Arsenal’s Anelka masterclass from 1997?
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With Lionel Messi departing Paris Saint-Germain and now Kylian Mbappe potentially making a move away from the Parcs des Princes, Neymar could perhaps be the final member of the famed triumvirate to still be at the club by the end of the summer transfer window.
That being said, however, former Gunners star Julio Baptista has suggested that a move to Arsenal could be the ideal opportunity for the £932k-per-week Brazilian to enjoy a fresh start.
He said: “It’s interesting. I think Neymar is comfortable at PSG, but maybe the best move for him is to create a new atmosphere at a new club – maybe a club that supports him and gives him all the confidence that he needs.
“He doesn’t have that at PSG. The fans don’t like him a lot and maybe it is time to move on and try something different. Why not?
“Arsenal is one of the best clubs in Europe. We know that the last eight or so years, Arsenal have not produced their best or been as competitive. But now, with [Mikel] Arteta, Arsenal have something different. They have started to construct something powerful. Why not?
“Maybe this could be the key. In Brazil we say that you have the house, you have everything, and you just need the key to open it. Maybe Neymar is the key to open and complete everything at Arsenal. He is an incredible player.”
How good is Neymar?
Anelka arrived at Arsenal as just a young talent from PSG in 1997, costing just £500k, and he ended up helping the Gunners secure the double in Wenger’s first full season.
The French maverick ended up scoring 28 goals and grabbing 12 assists before joining Real Madrid for a staggering £22.3m in 1999, just over two years after the club had signed him.
Although at different stages of their careers, Neymar could still certainly have a similar impact to that of Anelka, especially since he would be free from the vast pressures at the Ligue 1 side.
The 5 foot 8 magician has dazzled at times during his spell with PSG, registering an impressive total of 195 goal contributions – 118 goals and 77 assists – across just 173 games for the French giants and this clearly indicates that he would bring goals to Arsenal.
He was even ranked second in the squad last term for key passes per game (2.5) while ranking third for big chances created (15) and successful dribbles per game (1.9), which is further evidence of just how effective he was, despite almost playing third wheel to that of Messi and Mbappe.
Indeed, the diminutive Argentinian even lauded Neymar as “unstoppable”, and the 31-year-old still has plenty to offer.