Arsenal legend Lee Dixon has insisted that Nicolas Anelka was a more natural finisher than both Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp in their respective early days at the club.

Anelka was just 17 when he joined Arsenal from Paris Saint-Germain in February 1997 and was one of the most highly-rated young players in Europe.  


The Frenchman won the Premier League in his first full season at Arsenal, but he forced his way out of the club in the summer of 1999 and joined Real Madrid.

Dixon, who was Anelka’s team-mate at Arsenal, stressed that it was clear from the start that the Frenchman had talent and looked the real deal in his first training session at the club.

The former defender stressed that pace was one of the most special features that Anelka possessed and insists he looked like a natural finisher.

The former Gunner holds the bold view that at that point the striker looked like a better finisher than Arsenal legends Henry and Bergkamp.

“Just in the warm-up, before getting the balls out, he looked an absolute pure athlete”, Dixon told The Athletic.

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“I remember I was running flat out and he was just skimming across the grass, barely touching it.

“We had a practice match, 11-v-11, in one of his first sessions. The team was mixed up and he was on our side. He made it so easy.

“We realised we could basically hit the ball over the top and however bad a pass you hit, he’d get on the end of it.

“He was just instantly a brilliant finisher. Thierry and Dennis struggled to hit the net to begin with but Anelka was an absolute natural.”

Anelka went on to play for Bolton, Newcastle and Chelsea as well in England and scored 126 goals in the Premier League.