Clarke reveals he did his Anelka homework
STEVE Clarke insists Nicolas Anelka is in fine physical condition – after the former French international fired his first two Albion goals in last night’s 3-0 triumph over Puskas FC Academy.
The 34-year-old striker was the Baggies’ starman in Hungary as he netted a first-half brace before departing as a 61st-minute substitute.
And the Hawthorns chief revealed he used his own sources to check on Anelka’s fitness prior to signing the former Premier League Golden Boot winner.
“I never had a doubt about Nicolas because I’d worked with him at Chelsea,” said Clarke.
“I was with Avram Grant when we bought him in the January.
“So I knew the type of person he was, the type of player he is.
“Since he clearly looks after himself I had no doubts.
“I’ve one or two good contacts around the football world and I checked him out when he was at Juventus.
“The fitness statistics and information I got about his fitness was that he was one of the best trainers.
“He was one of the top performers, in terms of fitness stats, at Juventus.
“If you can do that at Juventus then you’re fit enough for us.”
Anelka stands joint-12th in the all-time Barclays Premier League scoring chart with 123 goals to his name.
And Clarke believes his domestic and international record speaks for itself.
“Nicolas is a player,” he added.
“I don’t have to stand here and talk Nicolas Anelka up as being a player.
“Where he’s been in the football world and what he’s done in the football world tells you that he’s a top quality player and we’re just happy to have him in our group this season.”
Clarke says last season’s eighth-place finish in the Premier League should be appealing to prospective signings – but admits having Anelka can only help.
“I think the performance of the team last season is the biggest hook.
“The fact we finished in the top eight of the Premier League.
“Even out here, we’re getting compliments and kind words from other teams in other countries.
“They realise for us to finish eighth in the Premier League, it’s something that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“And the fact Nicolas has come can only help that.”