Any player who switches clubs to claim a wage package that is a significant increase on his previous, as well as lifting a league title in his first season, is hardly seen as having made a poor career choice. But while Samir Nasri is sitting comfortably in his new surroundings at Manchester City, there’s certainly an argument to suggest he made the wrong choice for the development of his game.
Nasri was once one of the key members of a top Premier League side, linking up with players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie and serving as one of Arsenal’s great hopes for the future. Even as a youngster who had just left his teenage years, he displayed the kind of quality for Arsenal that was reminiscent of previous French internationals at the club. With Arsene Wenger to guide him through his development, Nasri could have done a lot to be rightly positioned as one of the leading French talents of this generation.
But Nasri’s time at Manchester City has been disappointing. Maybe it’s the stronger squad that’s on offer at the Etihad Stadium, but one way or another the midfielder’s performances have been overshadowed and well below par.
He is the kind of talent who can win you a game, regardless of how good his teammates are. For much of his final year at Arsenal, Nasri was the team’s strongest and most exciting attacker. But at Manchester City, the player is yet to really come to life and he’s done very little to repay the £24 million that City parted with for his services last year.
At Arsenal, the player was given the playing time and necessary education to help elevate his game. Even with the arguably unsavoury attitude he displayed at times, he was very much a player who could have been a natural leader on the pitch for any side. He would regularly demonstrate his attacking prowess to properly back up his confidence, playing a significant role in one of Arsenal’s biggest nights in their recent history: the home win over Barcelona in the Champions League.
But maybe the greed got the better of him. At only 25, he was never in danger of missing out on a big payday, no matter which club he represented. The ability of Manchester City to grant him any financial wish he desired has obviously proved too tempting, but there’s a great deal of disappointment for the extremely noticeable halt to his progression we’ve seen in recent times.
Growing up and learning his trade with Marseille, there were obvious comparisons made between Nasri and fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane. The fact both players operated in the advanced midfield role behind the striker, as well as the similarity in background (both players are of Algerian descent), meant there was always increasing pressure on the youngster’s shoulders.
Roberto Mancini has recently expressed his desire to see much more from Nasri going forward. While City are in very little trouble domestically, there have been concerns that not every player has been performing to their maximum. Among them has been Nasri, who has thus far been unable to rediscover his level of quality that would properly compliment players like Sergio Aguero and David Silva. He was brought in to provide quality in depth and was seen by Mancini as the missing piece for their title challenge.
But there could have been so much more from Nasri. It was a disappointment that Arsenal were forced to part with another one of their younger players despite plenty of room and time left for greater improvement. Yet nothing so far has suggested that Manchester City have bought the finished article, a player who will change the game for them and play a significant role in the charge for more titles. At City, there just isn’t enough time or room for Nasri to further his game.