LIMASSOL, Cyprus – Jermaine Jones has admitted that the thought of playing in MLS was on his mind before making the move to Besiktas from Schalke in January.
“I was thinking about it,” said the 32-year-old midfielder at US training ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Ukraine (2 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMas), “but I wanted to play in the Champions League and obviously MLS teams don’t play in the Champions League. There were no offers or talks but yeah, it was something that I was thinking about.”
After a 15-year career in the German Bundesliga, Jones is now settling in with the Turkish giants, having transferred from Schalke on a loan deal until the end of the season.
“I really like it,” said Jones of his new team. “The supporters are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. I’ve settled in really well and it helps when you’re living in a city like Istanbul. It’s a great club and a great place to live.”
Indeed, the vibrancy of the Turkish capital seems to suit Jones well and with Besiktas chasing a place in next season’s Champions League he has found everything he wanted in a new club.
“I was talking with some other teams, too,” he continued. “In the end, I always said to my wife that I wanted a chance to play in the Champions League again and live in a big city, so Besiktas and Istanbul made complete sense for me. When I heard that they wanted me it was an easy decision.”
That decision took some time to get to, however. And there were myriad factors involved.
“There were a lot of reasons why I made the move,” Jones explained. “I had been playing in Germany for quite a long time. So after six years at Schalke, I decided to move on, and the club decided to make the decision even earlier [than I was expecting] and gave me the chance to move in the winter break. Both sides made the decision and I’m really happy to have made that move.”
Jones hasn’t always been a favorite of the USMNT fanbase but he has become an integral figure of the team under Klinsmann over the past two years. The US head coach uses the German-born midfielder as his central anchor alongside Michael Bradley.
“I feel very comfortable playing with Michael,” Jones said . “I think we understand each other well and I enjoy playing that position with him. We’ve now played together for three years and I think both of us will speak only good stuff about each other.”
So considering his security within the roster, is there less pressure on Jones than some other members of the team, with just two friendly games remaining until the start of the World Cup?
“I think the pressure is the same for everyone,” he explained. “Everyone needs to be fit for the World Cup. That’s perhaps the biggest pressure. You can only play if you’re 100 percent fit and that’s something any player can suffer from. Everyone has the same chance to make the team.”