By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes that Nicolas Anelka is back where he belongs - at a top European club.
The French striker has led a rather nomadic existence since leaving Arsenal in 1999 but, after stints with Real Madrid, Paris St. German, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton, Anelka looks right at home at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea's in-form front man tops the Premier League scoring charts with 12 goals and has netted nine times in his last seven appearances. Wenger hopes Arsenal can keep Anelka quiet on Sunday but, nonetheless, the Frenchman is pleased to see his compatriot doing so well after a mid-career lull.
"I feel he had a strange career because he had a fantastic start and after he played in some clubs who were mid-table clubs now he is coming back to the top," said Wenger at his pre-match press conference.
“It is the same with the national team at an important period. Now he is playing at a bigger club, he is coming back into the national team.
“I’m not surprised because he always had the same talent but that was not always coming to the top. No disrespect to Bolton but it is easier to be a top-level goalscorer when you play in a big team instead of teams who do not create as many chances."
Wenger was the first to spot Anelka's huge potential when he brought him to Highbury as a teenager in 1997. The young striker helped Arsenal win the ‘double’ in 1998 - scoring in the FA Cup Final - and was the Club's top scorer the following season before leaving for Spain in the summer of 1999.
Anelka cost Arsenal a relative pittance and the profit they made on his £23million move to Madrid effectively paid for a new training ground plus a more than adequate replacement - Thierry Henry. Now five clubs have paid in excess of £7million for Anelka's services but that does not surprise Wenger.
"People have scouts everywhere in the world and when they buy a player, there are not too many strikers of that talent," he explained.
“That is why Nicolas has always been a very expensive player."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 28 Nov 2008