Nicolas Anelka has been excused by West Bromwich Albion on compassionate grounds after leaving the club’s training session on Thursday.
Anelka, 34, held a meeting with technical and sporting director Richard Garlick before exiting the West Brom training ground. According to sources, the former France international striker departed upon hearing that his agent had died.
The Press Association reported that Anelka was granted "indefinite" compassionate leave, but described early claims that he had retired from the game as "premature".
A statement on West Brom's official website on Thursday afternoon read: “West Bromwich Albion can confirm that Nicolas Anelka will not be involved in Saturday’s game at Everton. The club have excused the striker from club duty on compassionate grounds.”
Anelka joined Albion, his sixth Premier League club, on a Bosman transfer on July 4 after being released by Shanghai Shenhua, signing a 12-month deal.
There are no suggestions of any kind of falling-out between Anelka and the club, and it is thought the decision has been made for personal, rather than football, reasons.
Anelka turned up for training on Thursday morning as usual, only to clear out his locker and collect his personal belongings before a short meeting with Garlick. He did not join training with the rest of the squad, and left the training headquarters.