Mpanzu insists Luton is the 'best place' for him to be after agreeing new contract with the Hatters

Midfielder discusses his reasoning behind staying at Kenilworth Road

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 6:00 am
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu agrees his new contract with Luton

Midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu insisted that Luton was the ‘best place’ for him to be after finally ending his long-running contract saga by signing a new deal with the Hatters this week.

The 27-year-old had been heavily linked with a move away from Kenilworth Road when June ticked over to July as he was still to commit his future to the club, becoming a free agent.

However, on Monday evening, the news came through that all supporters wanted to hear, Mpanzu agreeing to remain at Luton by officially signing on the dotted line to extend his lengthy stint at Kenilworth Road.

The former West Ham youngster admitted he had been a wanted man, but on his decision process in opting to eventually stay put, he said: "There was interest, saying this and that, but I let my agent and my family figure it out, I was just trying to keep fit.

“I came back from international duty (with DR Congo) so I had to figure that out first, but once I let all that happen, they said ‘this is what it is’ and we came to a decision that Luton is the best place for me and here I am.

“When you’re at a club like Luton it’s easy to stay.

“Sometimes you think, ‘do what I want to do this?’ But I’ve been from the Conference with Luton, they’ve made me from a boy to a man, so I’ve got to give them all the praise and all the love.

“I had to sort a few things out, but now it’s over the hump, we’ve signed and it’s time to get to work.

“It’s not a decision I would have taken lightly. Clubs are interested, but I’ve made a decision to stay at Luton.

“Hopefully I can play my best and whatever we do this season, I know it’s going to be a great season.”

With a number of other side looking to take Mpanzu off Luton’s hands, when asked if the midfielder had ever seen himself playing anywhere else next term, he answered: “You never know, football is a business, you sometimes go, you leave, there were times I thought ‘is Luton the right thing for me?’

“But as I made a decision with my mum and my dad, so it was the correct decision to stay at Luton.

“If clubs are interested in you then you’re putting performances in week in week out, that’s what I want to continue doing with Luton.

“My whole focus now is on Luton, all that is in the past, hopefully I can have another great season, hopefully injury free, hopefully God will bless me with that.”

On the main factors that helped make his mind up to extend his near eight year stay with the club, Mpanzu continued: “The fans and I spoke to Nathan (Jones), he’s got a great project that he wants to do here.

“Hopefully we can make a play-off run if possible, we had a good finish last season and hopefully we can finish that.

“The fans being back, hopefully they can give us the boost we missed last season, it’s good they’ll be back and hopefully they’ll roar us on.”

Continuing his relationship with Jones, who has helped Mpanzu become a far more robust player during his time in charge was a big factor as well, with the midfielder turning from someone who struggled to play consecutive games, to easily getting through 40-plus during a campaign.

He said: "Since Nathan has come in, I’ve played the most amount of games I’ve played in my career.

“Before I had an injury here, injury there, but Nathan’s come in with Jared (Roberts-Smith) and the relationship has always been good.

"Even if I did not sign for Luton, he said ‘you go with my blessing,’ but I re-signed for Luton and our relationship is still strong.

“He was saying, ‘how do you feel, what’s this, what’s that, let me know,’ so we always maintained a good relationship.

“He’s still pushing me, the past couple of days and when the season starts he’ll be pushing me week in week out to perform how I want to perform so I’ve got to give him credit also.”

Town’s team-mates were also thrilled to see one of the dressing room favourites return as earlier in the summer, skipper Sonny Bradley had gone as far to describe Mpanzu as ‘irreplaceable’.

On his captain’s words and the welcome he had when back at training, Mpanzu said: “It’s great to hear that.

“I’m a bubbly type of person, I get everyone going, I try to be as positive as I can every day. Some people are angry, that’s how they are, but me I’m a positive guy.

“I try to bring it to the changing room, to the staff, the club knows how I am.

“Sometimes you’ve got to get focus when it’s game time, but me, I’m a bubbly person and that’s what I bring to the team and hopefully people appreciate me.

“You’ve got to have camaraderie, got to get people together. You don’t have to be friends, friends, but you have to get along, have to push people, have to get on to people.

“At the end of the day you’re team-mates, you’ll have to go through the highs and lows.

“You might lose two games, might be angry with someone, but you’ve got to keep the positivity going, keep your mental strength going and that’s how you’re going to get through the season.

“They were happy to see me, some were like, ‘Pell, listen, we’ve missed you here, you bring a buzz to the place.’

“I’ve been put through my paces and it’s been a tough couple of days, but I can only get better.”

It’s not just Bradley who had wanted to see Mpanzu re-sign, but the supporters too and when reading the response the news had garnered, he added: “I’ve seen it when they at (@) me.

“I’ve seen a couple of fans about, I haven’t been on social media too much, but it’s been a great reaction.

“I’m happy for them and hopefully I can return that.

“Life’s about being positive and making people happy. If I’ve done that then I'm happy with myself.

"Sometimes good things can come to an end, not everything is merry and jerry.

"I took it into consideration what they were saying (when the contract hadn't been signed), I didn’t read everything.

"Sometimes what they post, you have to be mentally strong.

"I took a decision to remain at Luton, personally I think it is the right decision and hopefully I can move on, get the fans buzzing and hopefully we can start well against Peterborough."