Marc Rogers is a football agent who was doing business with the biggest French players e.g. Anelka, Makelele, Henry, Wiltord, Vieira, and so on; here is his take on the Anelka from PSG to Arsenal transfer.

It started as revenge against PSG strangely enough.

Marc Rogers and Jean-Francois Larios, his associate in the agency, were trying to transfer the Brazilian left-back Leonardo from Kashima Antlers to Juventus. Rogers talked about this deal to Jean-Michel Moutier, the PSG sporting director, who asked about Leonardo‘s transfer conditions. When the deal with Juventus did not happen Rogers tried to engineer a move to PSG. But behind their back Moutier validated the move with Manuel Barbosa a Portuguese agent. Rogers was furious and said to Moutier:

“Ok, with Leonardo, you are winning 1-0 but one day with we will put a 3-0 in your face. We won’t do any more business with you. One day you will see what will happen.”

Nicolas Anelka of Arsenal in action against David Batty of Leeds United
11 May 1999: Nicolas Anelka of Arsenal in action against David Batty of Leeds United during the FA Carling Premiership match against Leeds United played at Elland Road in Leeds, England. The match finished in a 1-0 victory for Leeds United and the result dealt a serious blow to Arsenal’s title aspirations. \ Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport

Rogers found out about Anelka by chance, as he was living in Villennes sur Seine, near the Camp de Loges – the old PSG training ground where their reserves used to play. He discovered the player and then started to discuss with Anelka’s brothers:

How long is his contract with PSG?

The reply came: 8 months, but it is a youth player contract not a professional contract. Rogers then asked, “Is he happy with the current situation?”

What was happening is the previous coach Luis Fernandez gave Anelka his first game as a pro in February ’96, then he scored his first goal in September ’96. But the new coach Ricardo was more conservative and played older forwards like Loko and Daly Valdes, hence Anelka’s anger.

Rogers asked Anelka in a meeting, “Would like to play in England? With your speed, you would fit well to this fast paced League, and you could then move from being a youth team to a senior player without pressure.”

Rogers then called Wenger, saying, “Arsene there is a phenomenal player at PSG, he is the new Ronaldo, he is called Nicolas Anelka, you should scout him.”

A couple of week later, he got a call from the Arsenal manager: “I want him.”

They then started negotiations with David Dein on a six year contract in two year parts. A signing on fee of 2,000,000 Francs (£262,000) after tax and a monthly wage of 150,000 Francs (£20,000) after tax. Dein, Wenger, Anelka and his two brothers were there for the negotiations.

The deal was done in January less than six months before the end of Anelka’s youth contract hence he was allowed under French rules to negotiate a professional contract abroad but not in France.

Then Rogers and Larios rang Moutier saying, “You should buy Le Parisien (local paper) tomorrow morning. The hat-trick that we promised you last time, we have just done it. That’s 3-1 for us now.”

In the end, PSG decided to negotiate with Arsenal for an early release and got a mere 5,000,000 Francs fee for the immediate transfer (£655,000).