Hours before the first leg of the Mineirão final against their eternal rivals Cruzeiro, Atletico-MG president Alexandre Kalil set off a media storm.
During the wee hours on Sunday in Brazil, Alexandre Kalil, Atletico Mineiro's president, confirmed that after days of negotiations, former French international Nicolas Anelka was the newest signing for the reigning Copa Libertadores champs.
Anelka é do Galo.— Alexandre Kalil (@alexandrekalil) April 6, 2014
Anelka, 35, rescinded his contract with West Bromwich Albion but was then relieved of his duties after earning a suspension from the English FA over an antisemitic gesture he made back on December 28th in the match against West Ham United. Since he owns his own player pass, he would be available to report to O Galo immediately.
Kalil approved of the signing as a means to bolster his side for the knockout stage of the Copa Libertadores, as they look to defend the title they won last year. Anelka would not be available for next Wednesday's group stage final against Zamora as any new players signed can only take part in the tournament when the knockout stage commences.
Before the announcement there was speculation that São Paulo was also looking to woo the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Juventus man, but there was greater interest from the Belo Horizonte side.
Hours before the confirmation from Kalil, Lancenet reported that it was the Tricolor Paulista that had the advantage (link in Portuguese) in signing the forward.
The move will have Anelka reunite with former Paris- St. Germain teammate, Ronaldinho Gaúcho. The pair coincided at the Parisian club from 2001-2003, although Anelka would have some loan spells during that time period as well.
In addition to the Copa Libertadores and the final of the Minas Gerais state tournament, Atlético will also kickoff their Brasileirão campaign on April 20th when they face Corinthians at the Estadio Independencia.