Allowing Lescott to Leave in January Would Be a Mistake for City

Rob Pollard@@RobPollard_Featured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 25:  Cardiff City player Fraizer Campbell (l) challenges Joleon Lescott during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Manchester City at Cardiff City Stadium on August 25, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

It’s been a strange few months for Joleon Lescott. The Manchester City defender seemed almost certain to leave the club in the summer after a season playing second fiddle to Matija Nastasic.

In a World Cup year, Lescott needs to be playing consistently, and all the signs were suggesting it wasn’t going to happen at City.

But after injuries to key defenders, Lescott was thrust into action, playing 90 minutes in each of City’s first three games of the season. It was an opportunity to show what he is capable of and cement his place in Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

However, two poor performances—one in the 3-2 defeat at Cardiff and then again in the win at home to Hull—meant he was dropped for this weekend’s goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium.

Javi Garcia, who is a midfielder by trade, was preferred, presumably on the basis that Pellegrini likes to have one left-footed and one right-footed centre-back.

With Vincent Kompany now fit and available again, Lescott will be pushed further down the pecking order.

It seems a return to a spell on the bench is on the cards.

At 31 and with less than 12 months remaining on his current deal, the likelihood is Lescott may be sold in January. According to Ian Ladyman of The Mail, the club’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, has indicated a new contract will be offered to Lescott, but with Pellegrini making it clear he isn’t first-choice when everyone is fit and available, he is free to move if he so wishes.

Everton and Aston Villa are said to be interested, with his chances of starting for those teams much higher than they are currently.

It would be a move sensible for Lescott but one City may regret. It’s easy to forget after his stop-start campaign in 2012/13 that he was an integral part of City’s title-winning campaign the season previous. His partnership with Vincent Kompany provided the platform on which City won their first league trophy in 44 years. He was consistently excellent that season.

Judging him too harshly on his three appearances so far this season—the last of which saw him play as a right-sided centre-back where he looks much less comfortable—would be foolish, and if City do let him leave they must have an adequate replacement lined up.

Lescott is an excellent defender who lacks ability on the ball, but finding a player as good as him won’t be easy. After all, with the Kompany-Nastasic partnership seen as City’s long-term central-defensive partnership, any new defender coming in is likely to be there as cover.

It’s a delicate situation for Pellegrini who has between now and the next transfer window to assess Lescott’s form and the merits of any potential replacement. With City already struggling for continuity and consistency at the back, replacing Lescott may be best left for the summer.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity