Joleon Lescott has spoken about his future at City as his contract enters its final year this summer. With the 2014 World Cup looming, Lescott has expressed his desire to be on the plane to Brazil with his England team mates. Despite his quality on the pitch Lescott has become a bit part player at City this season due to the arrival of 20-year-old Serbian Matija Nastasic, which may well put his International place in jeopardy. Speaking to Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph Lescott said:
If someone said when I signed here ‘you’re going to win the Premier League, get to two FA Cup finals and represent your country in the Euros I’d have snapped their hand off. So now to go into the final year of my contract uncertain about my future is quite strange. I’d love to stay. My wife’s pregnant, we’ve just moved house, the kids are happy at school. But I’m not naive. When you’ve achieved all that and you’re going into the last year of your contract your future might be elsewhere.
Even though he wants to stay at the club, Lescott is realistic and has implied that his club future may lie elsewhere. It’s a strange situation to have player as good as Lescott sat on the bench the majority of the time, and with the World Cup just over a year away, he isn’t ruling a move away from City out of the equation.
I can’t afford to go into a World Cup year being uncertain of whether I’m going to play [regularly] here. It seems like I’ve always been fourth choice with England. I came in six years ago and JT (John Terry) and Rio (Ferdinand) were 50 caps each, so I was never going to break into that. Then Matty Upson came in, then Michael Dawson, then Gary Cahill. I felt after the Euros, there was an opportunity [to be first-choice] but not appearing consistently here has hindered that.
I feel I’ve done enough for the club to demand a bit of respect in terms of they come and tell me what they want, whether it’s a new deal, which I would be delighted to sign, or [to go] elsewhere. I’m very respectful of the club with what they’ve done for me, how they were persistent when Everton were digging their heels in to keep me. I owe a lot to the club. I also feel I’ve done enough to demand a bit of respect to not see speculation about my future. I’m reading I’m ‘going, I’m ‘available’.
It is an unfortunate situation for player, club and country. Lescott was a rock in the defence of the Premier League winning team of 2011-12 and his qualities no doubt warrant a place in the England squad, regardless of whether he is a regular at City or not. That said, it is widely recognised that a player’s chance of international selection are diminished by minimal playing time for their club. Such is the quality of Nastasic it is hard to argue against the Serbs’ selection ahead of Lescott but it is something which motivates him. He said:
I’ll continue to give 100 per cent for City until the day they say I’m no longer part of it. It’s not about money. There’s no point being somewhere, whether Barcelona or City, and not playing. Football will play second fiddle to the kids and my wife but all my opportunities in life have come from football. I love playing. I know I can perform at a high standard.
Last year was probably my best for City. I felt wanted. I felt needed. I had an inkling at the start when I wasn’t in the Community Shield squad that this year was not going to be as enjoyable. Then we signed Nastasic, who’s probably been the best young player in the Premier League along with Gareth Bale and Christian Benteke. I don’t hold anything against him. He’s done really well.
Lescott is also full of praise for his other team mates, particularly Pablo Zabaleta, and refutes suggestions of unrest at the club from the media. He feels Zaba has shown the most consistency in the league, even if others have been more eye catching.
He’s a really nice guy (Zabaleta). In the first half of the season, Robin van Persie was the outstanding player and (Gareth) Bale in the second half but the most consistent player throughout the season has been Zaba, as good as anyone. People underestimate the bond here. Yes, we’ve got great players, who can do great things at any given time, but we also fight for each other. We hurt when we read things about not being close as a squad. It’s probably the club where our wives mix least but the players mix a lot more over golf and meals.
I know we’re a big club but there’s been speculation that Vinny [Kompany] is going to Barcelona, the biggest club in the world. Vinny’s a great player. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone if they left. If you’re ambitious then go for whatever you feel is right. If you’re moving for money, that’s silly. People said my motive for coming to City was money but my decision surely now has been justified with trophies. For Carlos Tévez to come from United, people said ‘he’s only going for the money’. No, he’s going because he wants to play every week.
With Lescott’s international future in the balance it seems inevitable that he will depart the club this summer. It is a great shame as he is a top professional and a quality player who deserves to play every week. Whether he remains at City or not I wish him all the best for the future. Last season, Lescott was superb for us as we won our first league title in 44 years. His contribution to that success will never be forgotten. If he does leave this summer in search of more regular football, I hope he joins a good club, but in a perfect world he’d remain with us until retirement.
To read the full interview click here.
Written by Robert Toole