What Does the Future Hold for Manchester City Defender Joleon Lescott?

Phil KeidelContributor IIFebruary 10, 2014

Lescott's days as an enforcer in the middle of City's back line appear to be over.
Lescott's days as an enforcer in the middle of City's back line appear to be over.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Joleon Lescott's fall from grace at Manchester City was precipitous and fast.

Lescott was a nearly automatic selection for City's XI in their Premier League title-winning 2011-12 season. With Vincent Kompany, Lescott formed a centre-back pairing to rival any you could name in the league.

Indeed, Lescott was in Roberto Mancini's XI on May 13, 2012, known to all Sky Blues fans as the day City won the title at the death in a 3-2 thriller over Queens Park Rangers.

In one of those bizarre coincidences that life often produces, that joyous occasion also marked the beginning of Lescott's end as a starting centre-back at City.

Lost to many in the exhilaration of that match's end was the role Lescott played in putting QPR ahead in the first place. As Daniel Taylor's match report for the Guardian recalled:

The entire complexion of the game changed three minutes into the second half when Shaun Wright-Phillips flicked a hopeful pass forward and Joleon Lescott's mistimed header allowed Djibril Cisse to run clear. The striker advanced towards Joe Hart and thumped his drive beyond the goalkeeper.

From that moment on, Mancini never seemed to trust Lescott the same way again. Which makes sense. If City had not rescued that match, Sky Blues supporters would forever remember Lescott the way Boston Red Sox fans remember Bill Buckner.

Then last season, Lescott got caught out of position on the biggest stage against Ajax Amsterdam, lost his place in the XI again and ultimately disappeared to the bench—when Mancini permitted him to dress at all.

Lescott hoped that Manuel Pellegrini's appointment as City boss would give him another chance to establish himself as a City mainstay.

Per an Express report from last August, "Lescott himself has given no hint that he wants to leave and, after starting City's first two matches of the season, wants to prove himself to new boss Manuel Pellegrini."

But it didn't happen. Lescott has made only eight appearances in Premier League play all season, mostly at the beginning of the campaign when City's back line was ravaged by injury.

Lescott has had to put a brave face on the end of his time at the Etihad.
Lescott has had to put a brave face on the end of his time at the Etihad.Stu Forster/Getty Images

As Lescott wasted away on City's bench in January, several clubs expressed interest in acquiring Lescott by loan or by sale.

Per Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail, "The England international has had offers on the table from Fulham and West Ham and...pulled out of a lucrative switch to Besiktas after the terms changed at the last minute."

So, as Ladyman put it, "Lescott looks set to wind his contract down at Manchester City for the rest of the season after failing to find the right move."

That is not the worst fate. Ladyman quoted a source close to Lescott as saying that the centre-back "has been treated very well by Manuel Pellegrini and feels that if he stays for the rest of the season he will play some football and may even win a couple of medals."

According to Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star, Besiktas will probably still be interested in bringing Lescott on in the coming summer's transfer window.

"Besiktas vice-president Deniz Atalay has revealed talks have taken place with Lescott's representatives and he said: 'Joleon Lescott is a player who we will try again for in the future. We've got permission from the player to restart talks at the end of the season,'" Cross reported.

A move to Besiktas seems far more likely than a move within the Premier League to a less-competitive side like West Ham or Fulham.

Per Jason Burt of the Telegraph, a Lescott loan this past January would have been made for only one purpose: "The 31-year-old has six months left on his contract at the Etihad and wants to secure regular first-team football as he battles for a place in England’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil."

It is probably just as well that Lescott did not make such a move. As recently as December, not even one of five separate Telegraph pundits thought Lescott would make the 23-man England squad.

This is certainly not the end Lescott would have chosen for himself at the Etihad.

As noted above, though, but for timely goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, Lescott's legacy at City would have been much worse.