Former Newcastle star Jonas Gutierrez has claimed Mike Ashley was the person who did not want him at St James’ Park, following his return to fitness after overcoming cancer.
The Argentine midfielder left the Magpies in the summer of 2015, having made 205 appearances for the Tyneside club.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2013, and underwent therapy whilst still contracted to the club, but the 32-year-old believes he was treated unfairly by management.
He is now seeking a payment of roughly £2million from Newcastle on the grounds of disability discrimination, having missed out on an automatic one-year extension to his contract.
Gutierrez was in line to earn a new deal if he started 80 games between 2011 and 2015, but he managed only 78 starts, and he believes that the club actively prevented him from activating the clause.
“I think they feared my illness would mean that I could no longer play at the highest level and they considered me to be a liability rather than an asset to the club,” Gutierrez said, when discussing his situation on Tyneside.
“I got the impression that they thought I couldn’t be the same player again after such an illness or that I would be bound to have lingering effects, other episodes of illness off the back of it.
“This caused me a lot of distress, given my hard work and commitment for the club in the preceding five and a half years.
Gutierrez held a meeting with then-manager Alan Pardew in 2015, following his return from chemotherapy, when they discussed the winger’s future at the club.
The fan favourite believes that it was not the manager who was looking to get rid of him shortly after the removal a tumour, with the blame aimed at club owner Mike Ashley.
He added: “Shortly after my return to the club from chemotherapy, I was called into Mr Pardew’s office.
“Mr Pardew apologised for the way he had treated me in December 2013, when he told me I was not wanted by the club any longer but he said that this was not his decision.
“I understood by this that the decision was actually that of the club’s owner, Mike Ashley.”