• West Brom striker has time off after suffering bereavement
• Former France forward had just signed one-year deal
Nicolas Anelka's future at West Bromwich Albion has been thrown into doubt after he walked out of the club on Thursday on hearing the news that one of his agents had died. The Frenchman has been excused from duty at Everton on Saturday on compassionate grounds and the club have put no time frame on his possible return.
Eric Manasse was one of several representatives to have worked with Anelka during the player's nomadic career and the two were together at Albion's training ground last month, when the striker agreed terms on a one-year contract after leaving Juventus at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
Manasse's death has hit Anelka hard, and it was clear the player was in a distressed state when he turned up for training. Anelka cleared out his locker and, after holding talks with Richard Garlick, the club's sporting and technical director, left Albion's training ground.
It is unclear if or when Anelka will return and how much should be read into his decision to gather his personal belongings at a time when he was extremely emotional and trying to come to terms with a bereavement. The club, however, were left in no doubt that Anelka was very upset and in no state to contemplate playing football anytime soon.
Anelka wrote on his Facebook page: "It is with great sadness that I just learned the death of Mr Eric Manasse. Eric will leave a great void in our lives. I can't find the words to express my immense sorrow."
Albion are prepared to give him all the time he needs away from football and have no intention of being drawn on the possibility that Anelka, who is 34 years old and a multimillionaire after playing for six different Premier League clubs as well as Real Madrid, may seek to retire from football altogether. It is expected that talks will be held at some point soon to gauge Anelka's mood and to see how he is coping.
The club issued a short statement on their website confirming that Anelka, who made his debut for the club in last Saturday's 1-0 home defeat against Southampton, would take no part at Goodison Park. "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."
In other news at The Hawthorns, Albion have signed Scott Sinclair from Manchester City on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal. The 24-year-old started only three matches in all competitions at City last season on the back of a £6.2m move from Swansea City. "He is the type of player we were missing from the squad," Steve Clarke, Albion's head coach, said. "He is a pure winger who is quick, direct and scores goals – he has proven that over his career."