Former France striker Nicolas Anelka has this afternoon left West Bromich Albion by mutual consent. The player was suspended for five games after making the “quenelle” gesture in a match against West Ham back in December. He took to twitter this afternoon to announce his departure.
Suite aux entretiens entre le club et moi, des propositions m'ont été faîtes pour que je réintègre le groupe sous certaines conditions— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) March 14, 2014
que je ne peux pas accepter. Souhaitant garder mon intégrité, j'ai donc pris la décision de me libérer et de mettre fin au contrat— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) March 14, 2014
me liant avec West Bromwich Albion jusqu'en 2014, et ce dès à présent.— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) March 14, 2014
He cites that he couldn’t agree to the conditions that West Brom had set out in order for the player to re-join the squad, and that in order to keep his integrity he had freed himself from his contract.
It is unclear if he will continue to play football, but the 35-year-old is now a free agent and could possibly make a return to his homeland and finish his career in France. He last played in France back in 2002 during his second spell at Paris Saint-Germain, and there are plenty of Ligue 1 sides that could use a striker with his experience and quality.
His future at West Brom looked bleak after the club suspended him, and there were reports that wondered if he would ever play for the midlands club again. Anelka’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after the FA halted any plans to appeal the ban. They had looked at making an appeal to have the ban extended, but made a statement on Thursday that they would not take the matter any further.
West Brom became Anelka’s 11th club in 17 years when he joined last July and it is going to be very interesting to see if he picks a 12th, or whether he calls it a day. France is the controversial choice. The striker was given a 19-month international ban after reportedly abusing the then France coach Raymond Domenech. This began the series of events that led to the shameful scenes at the French training camp as the players refused to get off the bus. It is something that the French public have never forgotten, and many of the players involved are still unforgiven. Anelka’s actions deemed the catalyst for that unsavoury incident.
With the murky end to his international career and the position of the quenelle gesture in French culture, it would be a brave Ligue 1 club that took a gamble on the striker. His better option may be in the middle-east. It would be no surprise to see a Qatari club making a move for the veteran striker. Although, after a career littered with controversy, it may be best for everyone if he called time on his playing career.