Belfast Telegraph

Anelka walks out on Baggies

Nicolas Anelka announced on Friday that he has kicked his last ball for West Brom and left the club.

Anelka's decision, made public on his Twitter account, comes a day after it was confirmed that neither he nor the Football Association would contest the decision that he will serve a five-match suspension over the infamous 'quenelle' pose he struck when celebrating a goal against West Ham on December 28.

But while the former France striker, who turned 35 on Friday, has decided to "put an end" to his deal, Allbion issued a statement themselves stressing they have yet to receive any formal notification of Anelka's intentions.

West Brom also said they regard Anelka's releasing of his comments on Twitter as "highly unprofessional".

He has a deal at the Hawthorns that expires in the summer.

Over the course of three posts written in French on Twitter, Anelka said: ''Following talks between the club and me, propositions were made to me in order to reintegrate me into the squad under certain conditions that I cannot accept.

''Wishing to retain my integrity, I have therefore taken the decision to free myself and put an end to the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion to 2014, with immediate effect.''

West Brom's reaction suggested Anelka's revelation had caught them by surprise.

They stated : "The club confirms it has been continuing discussions with Nicolas Anelka and his advisers as part of its own internal enquiry into the gesture he made after scoring against West Ham United on December 28.

"Following the conclusion of the FA's enquiry into the same incident, the club had hoped to conclude its own investigations next week.

"The club notes Nicolas Anelka's comments on Twitter this evening (Friday). However, the club has received nothing formally regarding the termination of Nicolas Anelka's contract from either him or his advisers.

"The club regards the release of such a statement on social media as highly unprofessional and will make a further statement when appropriate."

Anelka - who joined West Brom last summer on a one-year deal, with a further year's option in the club's favour - is due to begin his five-game ban on Saturday when Albion face Swansea away.

After those matches, the Baggies have only five more this season in which Anelka would be eligible.

The former Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and Chelsea player was handed the punishment for making the 'quenelle' gesture, which is associated with anti-Semitism, by an independent regulatory commission.

Anelka claims he made the gesture in support of his friend Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, a French comedian who has been convicted seven times of anti-Semitic crimes.

The commission accepted there was no intent by Anelka to be anti-Semitic.

While West Brom state they have been talking to Anelka about the 'quenelle' gesture, the striker was placed under a club suspension after his five-match ban was imposed, pending the conclusion of the ongoing internal inquiry.

West Brom received bad press in the weeks following the incident and main sponsor Zoopla announced it would not be seeking to renew its deal in the summer.


From Belfast Telegraph