Nicolas Anelka’s ex-Arsenal team-mate Paul Merson believes Anelka and other European stars can help to improve football in India.

Earlier, Nicolas Anelka’s ban was reduced to three games. Anelka will now make his debut for Mumbai City FC in the match against Chennaiyins FC on October 29, 2014. The former Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, West Brom etc. forward was earlier confirmed as the marquee player for Mumbai City FC in this inaugural edition of the Indian Super League 2014. He began his footballing journey with Paris Saint-Germain in 1996 and moved on to Arsenal a year later scoring 23 goals in 65 appearances for the Gunners. He won the PFA Young Player of the Year award that very season.

Other European stars involved in the Indian Super League include Luis Garcia, Robert Pires, David James, Freddie Ljungberg etc. Paul Merson believes they can help to raise the standard of Indian football.

“I’ve seen it in the IPL with the cricket and the amount of youngsters who are now coming through,” he told Sky Sports.

“For Indian youngsters just the experience of playing with the international players coming over has helped, people like Chris Gayle.

“Anelka, Pires and David James are all top-draw players who will really help the young players they’ll be playing with. These are players who have been around and played for top teams.”

“I was only just coming back from injury when he signed and after we played in the reserves together I said to the lads ‘this kid is unbelievable’,” he said.

“In training he used to leave Steve Bould and Tony Adams on their backsides in one-v-ones. I thought he’d develop and go on and become better than the old Ronaldo – I thought he was that good. I honestly thought he was going to become one of the best players I’ve ever seen.

 “I’ve always found him to be a really nice bloke and football-wise he’s been a phenomenal player, honestly, an absolutely phenomenal player.”


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