Fresh from being named in the PFA Team of the Year, Samir Nasri’s stock has skyrocketed this season on the back of a number of increasingly assured displays at the heart of the Arsenal midfield. While last summer’s tabloids were obsessed with the protracted affair involving Barcelona’s very public pursuit of captain Cesc Fabregas, the Catalan giants recent financial troubles should see the Spaniard stay in England for at least one more season – yet the feeling persists that Wenger would do well to hold onto Nasri this summer after a breakout season with the vultures beginning to circle around the Emirates once more.
Cesc Fabregas has had to take a back seat for much of the season as messrs Nasri and Wilshere have at times overshadowed the skipper‘s contribution to the team. Nasri has been Arsenal’s most consistent creative force this season and has come on in leaps and bounds.
One of Nasri’s main strengths is his relative directness when compared to his current midfield counterparts. For far too long Arsenal have rather fairly been characterised as a team that has a penchant for moving the ball sideways simply for the sake of it as opposed to searching for the killer final ball. They can lack a cutting edge despite their fluent play, yet Nasri sticks out like a sore thumb among the Arsenal midfield.
In his early days in France with Marseille, Nasri became accustomed to playing on the wing, as well as being granted the freedom to drift inside. His start at Arsenal also saw him confined to a similar role. But Nasri’s best season in an Arsenal shirt to date has coincided with a shift to the centre of midfield. Much like James Milner and Ryan Giggs (these days at least), these two former wingers have found life in the middle much more to their liking.
Nasri, now arguably as key to the Arsenal side as Fabregas, appears to have developed into a mature footballer on and off the pitch though. He seems a likeable, well-grounded if a little shy person when interviewed and the chances of him forcing through such a move are small, yet there is always the chance that his form may be inadvertently affected by the constant haranguing from the press, a fate that has befallen many before him.
There is also the thorny issue over why Nasri is yet to sign a new deal at the club too. The haggling over his new contract is thought to be over a desired pay rise in keeping with his increased standing within the team, rather than any desire to seek pastures anew. But with just over a year left to run on his deal, time is certainly ticking and the player is holding all the cards at the moment going into negotiations.
The Frenchman’s form has seen him draw admiring glances from clubs all over Europe and Inter Milan and AC Milan have been touted as potential rivals for his signature, should he become available, with Real Madrid also said to be waiting in the wings.
For all intents and purposes the Italian league is not what it once was. Inter Milan’s victory in the Champions League has proven to be the exception rather than the rule and Italy’s representatives have disappointed across the board in Europe this season. A move to Italy would definitely be a step in the wrong direction. Italy’s top two teams look no more likelier to trouble their respective trophy cabinets when it comes to European competition than his current club Arsenal at present.
The only reasoning for any such move would be a craving to add some domestic titles to his collection. Arsenal look like coming up short in the title race once again this season after the dramatic events that took place this weekend against Liverpool. Mental fragility has been a tag that has often dogged them and for the first time in years, doubts are beginning to be raised about Arsene Wenger’s management of the club. A move to Italy may not benefit him on the European stage, however, he may be more likely to do something there than this current Arsenal side look just short of doing at the moment – winning a domestic trophy.
Real Madrid’s interest is the main one doing the rounds at the minute. You could certainly envisage Nasri fitting into the set-up at the Bernabeu, but if Mourinho’s Madrid had signed every player that the club had been linked with in recent times, they’d have a squad the size in number akin to that of a small cruise liner. With the likes of Ozil, Di Maria and Ronaldo monopolising a stranglehold over the creative midfield positions in Real’s current starting eleven, after each enjoying fine seasons, they appear to be well stocked in the area and I can’t particularly see him shifting Sami Khedira or Xabi Alonso either from the side.
As I’ve already stated, a move would seem out of the question unless Nasri pushed for it; an unlikely scenario to say the least. Logic would tell you that Nasri’s roots are firmly planted in the Premier League, however, constant press pressure may have an adverse affect on his performances and may see that the conditions for which a move becomes possible also become more viable.
The tabloids have never let logic get in the way of a good rumour though and something tells me that Wenger’s biggest transfer struggle this summer will be securing the long-term future of Nasri, rather than dealing with the expected and almost inevitable round of Fabregas to Barcelona rumours.
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