West Ham and QPR at front of queue to take Anelka in January
A move to London looks all but guaranteed should Nicolas Anelka be successful in his efforts to terminate his contract with Shanghai Shenhua early, but West Ham and QPR are both incredibly keen to seal his signature.
Anelka has managed just three goals since moving to China, but still has a year of his £200,000-a-week contract to see out.
However, he is in talks to reach an agreement a year early, which will make him a valuable free agent in the January transfer window as he chases a return to the Premier League.
The most logical destination would seem a switch to QPR and relegation candidates can be backed at 5/4 to be Anelka’s next club.
A new striker is certainly QPR’s biggest need in the window, with no club scoring fewer than their 15 league goals this season and Harry Redknapp having Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson injured.
The problem with Anelka is that his attributes largely match those of Djibril Cisse, QPR’s only current fit striker, and so it is unlikely that the pair will form a revered partnership.
Teaming up again with Sam Allardyce is the other obvious option open to Anelka, with West Ham considered the most likely to be the Frenchman’s next club at 11/10.
Allardyce was responsible for bringing Anelka to Bolton previously and the striker helped himself to a useful 21 goals in 53 Premier League starts.
Although Anelka is not best suited to performing the lone striker role at West Ham, he could have plenty to offer in a wider position, similar to where he played off Didier Drogba previously at Chelsea.
Given that he will start in his preferred position and the likeliness that QPR will be able to pay closer to Anelka’s China wages, the Loftus Road outfit must hold the slight edge over West Ham.
Alternatively, it is 10/1 that Anelka’s next move is a return to Chelsea, which is the same price as a move to another of his former clubs in Liverpool, who like QPR could do with bolstering their attacking options at present.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date