Bolo Zenden ponders Steve Bruce plea to extend Sunderland stay

11 March 2011 10:02
He may be the oldest member of Steve Bruce's squad by some distance, but veteran Bolo Zenden insists he still feels like a young man with years of top flight football left in him.

'I don't feel old,' he told Sportsmail. 'I still feel like one of the boys.

'Some times I might feel a little older when the lads say they have been on the Playstation for three hours until two in the morning I'll say "Seriously?"

Young at heart: Despite nearing the end of his career, Zenden still feels like he has years left to offer

'But then I just think I wasn't really interested in that kind of thing when I was young either.'

Sunderland boss Bruce wants the former Barcelona, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Marseille midfielder to stay at the Stadium of Light for another season.

And Zenden, who is coming towards the end of his second season on Wearside, admits he is tempted to grant his manager's request.

But central to his future will not be wages or length of contract but just how much playing time he will get under Bruce next season.

So far this season Zenden has made 21 Barclays Premier League appearances for Sunderland, but he has only started five games, including two against Manchester United.

Zenden, who will be back to face former club Liverpool next week after shaking off a calf problem, is set for talks with the Sunderland manager. And he clearly wants more playing time.

Plenty to ponder: Zenden is considering an offer to extend his stay at Sunderland

He said: 'The manager has spoken about his intention to go on for another year. It's definitely an option, we have to see what works and what doesn't. I have to see what other things are possible for me and the club.

'The issue again is how much a part I have to play. I've played quite a lot this season but some of the appearances have been for the last five minutes, and you wonder how it will be next season.

'It is not just a matter of putting some financial figures together - it is about the whole intentions of the club. I don't just want to be here to be here, I want to be important as well. I know off the pitch is important but playing a part on it is more important to me.

'I can't comment too much as yet because the only chat so far has been the intention to sort something out. The club has made that intention clear but nothing more has been said.

'I am enjoying this season because I'm playing more and I'm involved more. The side-note is those last minute substitutions - they're not as nice. But I'm enjoying it. When the results are there, the whole atmosphere is different.'

Still an avid student of the game, Zenden watched another of his former clubs reach the last eight of the Champions League this week with their destruction of Arsenal, the team Sunderland drew with last weekend.

Barcelona, who are now a totally different outfit to the one Zenden starred in at the end of the last decade, destroyed the Gunners in the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.

The Dutchman is convinced the Catalan side are the team to beat in this season's competition, and the one all the remaining English sides will be looking to avoid in next week's draw.

He added: 'Barcelona will be the team to beat. But it doesn't mean they'll win it because the favourite doesn't always do that.

'Perhaps in the next game someone will come up with a game plan and beat Barcelona, like Inter Milan did last season.

'If you let them play, you'll get played. I think you may as well press them and play them up high because if you do that, they'll try and play out of it - they won't launch it. It is hard to play them because they've got so much, but you may as well 'have a go'.

Eye on the ball: Former Barcelona star Zenden admits he is still an avid student of the game

'Messi is incredible and he's got this childishness to him. He plays like he's in the park, enjoying it with his mates. After a goal he's always the first one to go and celebrate with the guy who supplied the pass. He is so special but so down to earth.

'Obviously, because I played in Barcelona, I know the philosophy and the whole atmosphere around it.

'Maybe if you're an English fan or an Arsenal fan you might complain about the two yellows for van Persie which upset the game and after that it was one way traffic. But to be fair, it was one way before then as well.

'I was upset Arsenal didn't play their own game. But may be they were frightened to play their game. They got lots of men behind the ball and defended - and then when they got the ball they gave it away too easily. It was not like an Arsenal side.'

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Source: Daily_Mail