BOLO Zenden says he is happy to extend his stay at the Stadium of Light into next season – provided he still has an important first-team role to play.
Sunderland have signalled to the 34-year-old that they want to talk about a new deal after his one-year contract extension expires this summer.
But the Dutchman says he won’t be interested unless he knows he will be a real part of Steve Bruce’s first-team plans.
It’s a case of deja vu for Zenden, who was in exactly the same position last year and said he would only sign a year-long deal if he got more involvement this time around.
Bruce gave him that assurance and has proven to be as good as his word – the midfielder was involved in 21 Sunderland games in 2009/10 but has been involved in 23 so far this season,
The former Barcelona and Liverpool midfielder is happy on Wearside but is fully aware that he is in the twilight of his career and, with there being no shortage of clubs that will be interested in his services this summer, is keen to ensure that if he does stay at Sunderland he will be more involved in football than a club ambassador role.
The club captain admitted: “The issue 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, which is not so nice.
“I don’t just want to be here to be here – I want to be important as well.
“I’m having a good time. I don’t feel old. I still feel like one of the boys.
“Maybe only once I felt old – when they said they had been on the PlayStation for three hours.
“I said ‘Seriously? You were on there for three hours until two in the morning?’
“Then I thought maybe I was too old, but then I remembered then when I was younger that I wasn’t really interested in computers or anything.
“I know the music though. I know Tinie Tempah and all of them. I’m not that old! I’m still feeling like one of the boys.
“But the mental note I make is that some of my appearances have been for the last five minutes – you take them off 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 know that off the pitch is important, but playing a part on it is more important.
“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 hope so, though, because I’m still enjoying it and when the results are there, the whole atmosphere is different.”