North London giants Arsenal made a big transfer coup with the signing of Frenchman Nicolas Anelka for a transfer fee of £500,000. The striker signed for the Gunners in February 1997 thanks to the influence of compatriot Arsene Wenger who had been appointed as the Arsenal manager a few months earlier.
There was controversy over his transfer initially as Wenger was keen to sign him for free under the Bowman ruling. In the end, Arsenal had to part with some money to sign the French international. Nicolas Anelka didn't get a lot of first-team opportunities in his first few months at Arsenal. He burst onto the scene in his first full season at the club helping the Gunners to their first Premier League title.
Nicolas Anelka was able to break into the first team at Arsenal in his first full season in North London following the long-term injury to club legend Ian Wright. The French striker scored his first Arsenal goal in a 3-2 home win over title rivals Manchester United in the league. He was a key player for the Gunners as Arsenal won the double namely the Premier League and the FA Cup titles. Nicolas Anelka scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the 1998 FA Cup final. Anelka was the topscorer at Arsenal with 17 goals in the Premier League and his form was rightly rewarded with the PFA Player of the Year.
Arsenal fans turned on Nicolas Anelka in the following season as they failed to retain both their FA Cup title and Premier League title. His relationship with the fans prompted him to join Real Madrid in August 1999 on the back of a return of 28 goals in 90 appearances for the North Londoners. Real Madrid paid £22.3m to sign him from Arsenal.