at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
PARIS – Controversial French forward Nicolas Anelka on Wednesday rubbished claims he was ever in line to join Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro.
Atletico claimed on Tuesday they had scrapped plans to sign Anelka after running out of patience waiting for him to make contact with them.
That came after Mineiro chairman Alexandre Kalil had said on April 5 via Twitter that Anelka would be signing.
But on Wednesday the 35-year-old striker uploaded a video to his Twitter and Facebook pages showing him talking on April 8 about his future, which he said would not be in Brazil.
“I'm obliged to make a video today (April 8) because I’ve seen what’s happening with regard to the news about me,” he said.
“And as I know you, the press, by heart, you’re going to try to make me out to be the bad guy at the end of this story.
“So it’s Tuesday, I’m supposedly expected in Brazil on Thursday (April 10), I’ve supposedly reached an agreement with a Brazilian club and I’ve supposedly signed with them.
“This is an amazing story and in any case I’m not aware of it.
“It’s true that I received an offer from this club (Mineiro) through an agent but I’ve never spoken to this president (Kalil). I’ve never spoken to anyone at the club and I’ve never accepted their offer.
“So I don’t know how I could have already signed a contract, it’s incredible. I’ve been in football for 20 years and this has never happened to me before. But obviously it had to happen some time, to me of course.
“It’s not true, it’s false. I recently said I’d stay at home, have a holiday and look after my children. That’s what I’ve been doing.
“I already know where I want to go if I do decide to continue (playing) and in any case, it’s not in Brazil.”
Anelka’s response came a day after Mineiro, current club of veteran Brazil star Ronaldinho, hit out at the former Arsenal, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea veteran.
Director of football Eduardo Maluf claimed the club had been unable to contact Anelka and had ended their interest in signing him.
“At no time did we manage to speak to the player,” Brazilian media quoted Maluf as saying.
Maluf said they would be making a complaint to Fifa, claiming they had earlier agreed a deal with the former France international's representatives.
Maluf said “we had everything agreed” but had received information from Anelka’s agent Cristian Cazini that he could not arrive before Saturday.
“We decided the contract was cancelled – we are not going to wait until the 19th,” said Maluf.
On Tuesday, Anelka, a convert to Islam, was in Kuwait to participate in a meeting for young Muslims.
There he told journalists: “I haven’t signed for anyone, I’m on holiday.”
On his arrival in Kuwait on Monday he had refused to even discuss the rumours, saying: “I’m on a religious visit in Kuwait and I'm not going to talk about football.”
Mineiro had expected to unveil the Frenchman last week but went quiet on the deal after he failed to show.
Maluf indicated that a pre-contract had been inked for Anelka to play for the club until December next year.
West Bromwich Albion sacked Anelka last month for “gross misconduct” after he made an alleged anti-semitic “quenelle” gesture on scoring a goal.
Anelka denied the allegation, insisting the sign was to show solidarity with his friend, controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala.
Anelka burst onto the scene with Arsenal as a teenager. He won 69 French caps, scoring 14 goals before being thrown out of the 2010 World Cup following a row with coach Raymond Domenech.
He was handed an 18-match ban, that effectively ended his international career. – Sapa-AFP