Are Newcastle desperate enough to gamble on Anelka yet?

Nicolas Anelka

The Magpies may be struggling defensively but a lack of goals and options going forward could make the one-time Premier League top scorer worth a look.

In his pomp he won titles with Arsenal and Chelsea, toasted Champions League success at Real Madrid and claimed the golden boot as the Premier League’s top scorer but is Nicolas Anelka worthy of yet another chance in the English top-flight?

The 35-year-old certainly attracted his fair share of trouble following a brief stint in the Midlands with West Bromwich Albion, but after completing a ban for that infamous ‘Quenelle’ celebration the striker is free to join whoever he wants.

Only problem is, so far no one has taken the bait, with reports abound that the striker has come up short in his search for what would be a seventh Premier League employer.

But with the transfer window closed and options severely limited, it would still not be a massive shock to see Anelka line-up in the Premier League this season.

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has already dipped into the free agents market with the recruitment of ex-PSG forward Nene and he may not be the last top-flight manager to go shopping in the bargain bin.

John Carver and Newcastle, for instance, could soon follow suit after a pitiful 5-0 loss to Manchester City at the weekend that left Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer foaming at the mouth.

But while the Magpies defensive woes remain problematic, perhaps the signing of another Premier League legend at the other end could help alleviate the pressure on the Toon back line.

Because goals remain a major concern for Newcastle, who drew a blank against the Sky Blues and have managed 31 in the Premier League so far this term.

Outscoring opponents was a key component of the success the club enjoyed under Kevin Keegan and later Bobby Robson and as the well-worn logic goes, attack can often be the best form of defence.

Newcastle's current Premier League tally has left the club as the 10th highest scoring team in the division and it’s when you factor in Newcastle’s goals against record, which stands at 42 and is the fourth worst in the league, that you realise the problem.

And though the Toon have no real issues in getting off the mark, it’s proven rare to see them score more than one with just four of their last 17 fixtures in all competitions featuring two goals or more for the Magpies.

It’s no coincidence that those four high-scoring results – three wins and a draw – have proven to be the precise difference between the team languishing in the relegation places and staying in mid-table but more is needed.

The team remains too reliant on Papiss Cisse up front, with the Senegal international scoring 10 goals already this term, and should the African star pick up an injury then real problems could emerge in the final third.

Ayoze Perez has shown promise but is a work in progress while Emmanuel Riviere and Facundo Ferreyra have both failed to impress and Siem de Jong remains sidelined through injury.

A short-term deal for Anelka could therefore make sense and though Newcastle supporters will not want to contemplate the idea it could prove the most effective stop-gap before a summer move for another forward.

Former Sunderland and Manchester City manager Peter Reid certainly believes Anelka is capable of doing a job in the Premier League this term, having worked with the Frenchman during a stint in the Indian Super League.

Speaking in an interview with Ladbrokes News earlier this month, the former Everton favourite only had positive things to say about the ex-Chelsea striker.

"I’d read stories about him but when he trained he was fantastic and he was a great personality to have around," he said.

"If I was around the lower echelons of the Premier League, I would take a chance on him. If you are asking for someone to get you a goal, I think he could still do it."

Anelka could not only provide the goals to keep Newcastle’s head above water, he could also offer back-up and support toCisse and guidance to Ayoze, a striker with undoubted talent.

Rarely a popular player throughout his time in the Premier League, the forward once labelled ‘Le Sulk’ could be the man to lift the gloom on Tyneside - if given the chance.

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