Jonas Gutierrez claims he was not considered for selection by Newcastle United so they could release him from his contract after deeming him a “liability” following cancer treatment.
The Argentine winger is suing the club for a fee reported to be in the region of £2million and, in a statement to an employment tribunal that is hearing his claim for disability discrimination, Gutierrez accused Newcastle of deliberately ensuring he did not play enough matches to trigger an extension.
Gutierrez, who joined Newcastle in July 2008, had a testicle removed in October 2013 and underwent chemotherapy treatment the following year.
The 32-year-old returned to first-team action in March 2015, but was released by Newcastle at the end of last season.
In his statement, Gutierrez recalled a 2013 meeting with former manager Alan Pardew in which he was told he was free to seek a new club.
“This was the first time I – or any of my representatives – had been notified of this and it came as a great shock, so soon after my cancer treatment,” he said.
“I was very shocked by the club’s sudden change of heart about me, particularly as I had played in 194 games for the club at this point and was one of the key first-team players.
“I believe that the reason for this was due to my cancer diagnosis and very recent operation to remove the tumour.
“I think they feared my illness would mean that I could no longer play at the highest level and they considered me to be a liability rather than an asset to the club.
“I got the impression that they thought I couldn’t be the same player again after such an illness or that I would be bound to have lingering effects, other episodes of illness off the back of it.
“This caused me a lot of distress, given my hard work and commitment for the club in the preceding five-and-a-half years.”
He added: “It is notable that during my chemotherapy treatment, neither the manager, Alan Pardew, or any club directors contacted me to see how I was feeling or to congratulate me on my recovery.
“Shortly after my return to the club from chemotherapy, I was called into Mr Pardew’s office. Mr Pardew apologised for the way he had treated me in December 2013, when he told me I was not wanted by the club any longer but he said that this was not his decision.
“I understood by this that the decision was actually that of the club’s owner, Mike Ashley.”
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