Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro declared their deal with Nicolas Anelka ‘is off’ after the Frenchman took too long to arrive in Belo Horizonte.
A shadow was cast over Anelka’s prospective move to Mineiro on Monday when the striker was photographed in Kuwait at an Islamic conference, and on Tuesday, one of the club’s directors withdrew their offer.
Mineiro had expected Anelka to arrive in Brazil on Monday but were told by the striker’s representatives that he would not arrive until Saturday and director Eduardo Maluf said it was disrespectful to the reigning Copa Libertadores champions.
“He had the obligation to let us know about this in advance,” Maluf said.
“Atletico is much bigger than this, the deal is off.”
The Brazil Serie A club had planned to sign Anelka for the knockout rounds of the Copa Libertadores, which they won for the first time last season, and need to submit their squads for their round-of-16 clash with Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 21.
“Yesterday was the deadline for there to be a hint or an explanation, as we would expect (Anelka) to compete in the Copa Libertadores,” Maluf said.
“Today, however, we received an email from Christian Casini, explaining that the athlete, who has converted to Islam, was at an event in Kuwait and would only arrive on the 19th.”
Mineiro president Alexandre Kalil first announced that the Belo Horizonte-based club had signed the former Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Real Madrid striker on April 5, when he tweeted ‘Anelka is a rooster’, referring to the club’s nickname of ‘the Roosters’.
Anelka would have linked up with former PSG team-mate Ronaldinho at Mineiro but will now have to find another new club after he was sacked by West Brom last month.
West Brom terminated Anelka’s contract for gross misconduct after the veteran forward had announced he had quit on Twitter.
The falling out between club and player came after West Brom insisted Anelka apologise for using the anti-Semitic ‘quenelle’ gesture during a Premier League match late last year and pay a ‘substantial fine’ before they would allow him to play again.
Anelka was also given a five-match suspension and ordered to pay an £80,000 fine by the English Football Association.
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