He was undoubtedly one of the Premier League’s best players last campaign with Arsenal, but Samir Nasri is finding that with a big money move to Manchester City, has come big questions over just where he fits within Roberto Mancini’s short and long-term plans. Does he even fit at all?
Nasri has indeed managed 25 starts in all competitions for City this term but has had to be content with six appearances from the bench; a role he didn’t fulfil during his time in North London. Part of one of the Premier League’s largest squads, Nasri was always likely to be competing with fellow star-studded names for a starting berth; understandably so, following Sheikh Mansour’s investment in the club’s revolution.
But three-quarters of the way through his debut season at the Etihad, and arguably the summer signing with the least impact, Samir Nasri is still not at home in his new Manchester surroundings, questioning was it ever the right move?
Let us retrace our steps back to the summer whereby a clutch of clubs were purring at the thought of adding the Frenchman to their ranks following the best season of his career whereby he struck 15 goals in all competitions for the Gunners.
It is not disputable that any club back then would have been criticised in their attempts to land the unsettled Arsenal star, but by employing the wisdom of hindsight, it is clearly evident that Nasri’s talents are being wasted in Mancini’s side.
Nasri spoke this week aiming another shot at his former employers:
“Sometimes it’s good to win ugly. You don’t always have to play good football to win”.
But you gain the overriding notion that Nasri is talking about the team philosophy and not of his own individual preferences. After all, he has had to be content to play second fiddle to the hard working exploits of James Milner in the ‘big’ games this season.
Nasri was the artistic and creative force in the Gunners ranks last term and someone who they have struggled to replace. Aside from his jibes, how Arsenal would love to employ his attributes alone back into their underachieving side.
The Frenchman often played in a more attacking role at Arsenal as a playmaker if you will. Here, Nasri’s aesthetic qualities were abundant for all to see, but at City, Mancini prides more of his game plan upon solid defensive work and lightning counter attacks. Nasri has never been much of a tracking back player and Mancini’s Italian mentality surrounding being hard to beat is in stark contrast to the attitude employed at the Gunners.
Perhaps, this explains James Milner’s preferred choice in the team given his grit and hard-working qualities up and down the flanks, as opposed to Nasri’s flair and sparkle, deemed much more appropriate from the bench.
Of course, one of Nasri’s reasons to leave North London was his desire to win trophies and the Frenchman may just do that at City this season, but it would all be achieved through a bit-part role, in contrast to the consistent roles Kompany, Yaya Toure and Aguero play at the Etihad.
At any big club, the mark of quality is the strength of the squad, but you learnt during his time at Arsenal that Nasri was on the way to becoming one of the world’s top talents. Playing consecutively and in Arsenal’s style, which was a match made in heaven, truly made the Frenchman stand out. Laurent Blanc was ready to build the France squad around his qualities but his moves to do this may prove a little premature.
Nasri’s impressive season inevitably saw him headhunted by a new club this summer, but he is finding out quickly just like Torres and Carroll before him that the team philosophy just doesn’t seem to match up with that of his own.
It remains to be seen whether Nasri is to really grasp his chance at City and stamp his own mark on an efficient team this term. The gut feeling is that he was most definitely an ‘Arsenal’ type player. He is still not at home at City.