With the recent takeover news and dismissal of Stuart Pearce, the issue of Sylvain Distin has fallen somewhat on the City radar of late but was thrust back in the spotlight today as an announcement (without any real rumour or leaked speculation beforehand) this morning confirmed his departure from the club after five seasons.
Distin himself confirmed:
"It has been an incredibly tough decision but in the
end, I just feel I want a fresh challenge.
"I have had five very enjoyable
years at City and I wish the club all the best for the future but I want to play
"It is time for a change and it is time for me to move
The club defended itself and its negotiations however, saying:
“We left no stone unturned to try and persuade him thatIt was an interesting point that the club would have allowed him a free transfer in January if he signed a new deal, and was subsequently not happy at the club - something I'm not aware of a club offering previously.
his future lay with us. We recently explored a new option that would have
allowed Sylvain to leave in this transfer window or the next one on a free
transfer if he was not happy with the on-field progress we were making.
“This offer would have given Sylvain the maximum flexibility to consider his
future over the next few months.
“However Sylvain made it clear that he felt
his ambitions could be better delivered elsewhere.
“He was a fantastic player
for this football club and I am sure that all supporters would join me in
thanking him for his efforts over the last five years.”
This is something I thought he may have taken, given the recent changes in manager and likely takeover resulting in potentially significant investment in the side - which could have matched Distin's own ambitions.
Did the club do everything possible to convince him to stay? On a financial scale I would say yes, and the add-in of an 'escape clause' probably backs that up also but it is the way the club has gone and been run over the past two seasons in particular that I think have led to Distin's departure as I think it probably was a case of now or never for Distin who, at aged 29, is potentially entering his last chance of success at club and international level.
Time and again he must have sratched his head as he was continually overlooked for France by the likes of Silvestre and Boumsong. Perhaps a different club or European football may have resulted in a different outcome.
I don't think there will be any bad will towards Distin from the fans as at no time has he conspired to mislead anyone with his negotiations, always being honest and seemingly not concerned with the biggest monetary offer out there (hence him turning down Middlesbrough last summer). He is believed to have turned down a record contract offer from the club to test the market.
Rumours of potential destinations seem to point towards Portsmouth - something that I would be disappointed at as I believe he could aim for far higher than that, both in this country or abroad and deserves to be playing on a bigger stage.
As for ourselves, it is obviously a blow, both in terms of having to replace him but also the potential impact it may have on any signings that are lined up. For me, Distin has been up there with Dunne as the most consistent (and best) player each season and their partnership has flourished into one of the leagues best. The skills that he brought to the position were probably unparallelled with anyone since the days of Keith Curle.
We do however have two excellent players in Onouha and Richards who may just be ready to step up to a bigger challenge, and the central position will suit Onouha better than full-back. What we will need is some experienced cover to challenge for the position and also replace Distin's knowledge at the position - I see Sami Hypiia has been linked with us the past couple of days.
Above all though, it will mean that before strengthening the squad from last season (something desperately needed) we will need to replace Distin (not to mention Barton) just to get to the stage where we finished up