WBA boss reveals Anelka warning
Steve Clarke says Nicolas Anelka told him he wanted to quit football - but the West Brom boss thinks he could change his mind.
On learning that his agent Eric Manasse had died over the weekend, Anelka left training on Thursday following conversations with Albion's technical director Richard Garlick and Clarke, but the manager is adamant there was no hostility on any side.
He said at his Friday morning press conference: "Obviously Nicolas lost a close friend and an agent over the weekend - he died suddenly. Nicolas went to Richard (Garlick) on Thursday and indicated that he wasn't in a good place.
"I went in and had a very brief chat with him, and he wasn't in a good place. So the club have decided just to give him a bit of time to go away and think about it and get himself in a better place for the future.
"Really, that is as much as there is to tell on the situation - it wasn't dramatic, there was no big bust-up, he didn't storm out of the training ground. It is just a boy who is really quite upset."
Asked directly if Anelka had mentioned quitting, Clarke added: "I'm not going to deny that he used that word in the conversations we had with him. But we've given him time to go away and think about it and I don't think we could do any more in the circumstances as they were."
Clarke added: "He was down, really down. He was actually injured. He hadn't trained with us this week, so I was preparing the team for Everton without Nicolas in it anyway - he got a kick against Southampton."
Clarke is keen to hold further discussions with Anelka in time, saying: "Once he gets his head clear and we can sit down and have a proper chat, yeah, sure. But at the moment this (the decision to grant Anelka compassionate leave) is the best course of action for both Nicolas and the club."
Asked if he fully expected Anelka to return, Clarke said: "I don't know, because from the conversation we had the other day, it was really negative. But as I said, we have given him time to think about it. So I'd like to think he could play for West Bromwich Albion again."
Anelka expressed his grief for Manasse through his official Facebook page. He wrote: "It is with great sadness that I just learned the death of Mr Eric Manasse. Upset by the news of mourning which strikes his family and relatives, Eric will leave a great void in our lives.
"I can't find the words to express my immense sorrow, and I wanted to bring all my condolences to family Manasse after this tragic loss."
While reports that the 34-year-old is set to retire are premature at this stage, both club and player have been left in limbo with West Brom opting against setting a timeframe for his return to duty given the nature of his absence.
Anelka joined West Brom on a free transfer in July having completed a loan spell at Juventus when his lucrative move to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua turned sour.
The well-travelled former Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Bolton striker agreed a one-year deal with the Baggies with an option for a further season.