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Atletico Mineiro cancel Anelka deal after no-show

ESPN staff
April 16, 2014
Anelka's contract at West Brom was terminated by the club after the striker made a quenelle gesture © Getty Images

Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro said on Tuesday that they will not sign former France striker Nicolas Anelka because the player took too long to report to the club.

Atletico Mineiro director Eduardo Maluf told a media conference the player had until Monday to arrive and sign his contract. He said the club was advised by one of Anelka's agents that he would not be able to come to Brazil until the end of the week.

'I know where I want to go - it's not in Brazil'

  • Nicolas Anelka posted a video on Facebook to explain his side of the story - here is what he had to say:
  • "I am supposedly expected to be in Brazil on Thursday because I would have had a so-called agreement with a Brazilian club. I would have also supposedly signed with this club. I don't know anything about it. [Sarcastically] What's happening to me is something fantastic!. In any case, I know nothing about this.
  • It is true that I have received an offer from this club through an agent. I have never spoken with the club's president. I have never spoken with anyone from the club or accepted any offer and I don't know how I could have signed this so-called contract.
  • It is an extraordinary story for me. I have worked in football for 20 years and I have never seen or experienced this before. This had to happen one day! To me!
  • All in all, I just wanted to say that it is not true.
  • I recently said that I was going to stay at home, have a holiday and look after my children. Therefore this is what I am doing and what I intended to do.
  • I already know where I want to go if I ever want to continue and it's not in Brazil."

Maluf said it was the third time the player and his agents "gave excuses" for his failure to report to the club. Anelka has since posted a video on his Facebook page, explaining in French that he has never agreed a deal with Mineiro, that he wishes to spend time with his family and that he is still considering where his future lies.

Atletico Mineiro president Alexandre Kalil announced the deal to sign Anelka on April 6. The club said a pre-contract had already been signed and had been heavily marketing the player's signing even though his arrival kept being delayed.

Maluf said he was caught by surprise on Tuesday when the agent said Anelka was in Kuwait for a religious trip.

"He had the obligation to let us know about this in advance," Maluf said. "Atletico is much bigger than this, the deal is off."

Maluf said the club is considering filing a complaint to FIFA against the player and his agents, saying they broke their agreement with Atletico.

The 35-year-old striker has been without a club since West Brom said they fired him in March following a five-match suspension for a controversial goal celebration. Anelka said he was the one who terminated his contract with the Premier League club.

The former Manchester City and Chelsea player was suspended for performing a gesture known in France as a "quenelle" and regarded as anti-Semitic.

Anelka was set to form a strike partnership with former Brazil star Ronaldinho, his teammate at Paris Saint-Germain in the early 2000s. Brazilian media said the players had talked and Ronaldinho helped convince the Frenchman to join the club.

Atletico Mineiro are the defending champions of the Copa Libertadores, South America's premier continental club competition.

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