Samir Nasri’s recent three-match ban by the French Football Federation is the latest stain on a career that promised to be so much more than just that of a misguided pretender. There may still be time, but as of now, Nasri has fallen shy of what his career projection once was.
The early comparisons with Zinedine Zidane were there. Although, I think they were more coincidental than concrete. Any young talent is bound to be compared to one of his nation’s past greats. And at the time, Nasri was one of France’s leading prospects.
Nasri has come a long way since being carried off in the arms of Lorik Cana, the Marseille captain at the time, to the overpaid and increasingly unlikely figurehead for this French generation that we now see.
Is Nasri’s involvement on the fringes, for the most part, of one of European football’s most star-studded teams rooted in poor management at his previous clubs, or is there something a little deeper than just being played out of position?
Nasri’s gift was his artistry in the centre of midfield, and while he was often deployed on the flanks during his time at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger did offer the young Frenchman time as the creator in the Gunners midfield.
But effort, commitment and even ability was not always to be counted on. He was fantastic two seasons ago for Arsenal – an outstanding run of form that failed to envelop the entire season. In the absence of other leaders at the club, both physically and mentally, Nasri stepped into the role that he was always destined for. After an initial settling in period, we were finally seeing the makings of a Nasri that many had compared to Zidane.
But rather than dwelling too much on the faults of Arsenal and the reasons behind their best players jumping ship, it also has to be questioned whether Nasri falls into a category of player who masks personal fortune with career ambition.
His move to Manchester City has offered him both goals, and while he picked up a winners’ medal for playing the required amount of games, is it a fair assessment that he was an integral part of the side?
Nasri’s early form with City was a continuation of his previous season with Arsenal, however it was short-lived. Concerns over his attitude forced his natural footballing ability into the background, and maybe a lack of desire to do better really put a halt to his early momentum.
He has the talent, but does he really have the mentality and desire to be one of the leaders of this Manchester City team? An effort that in turn would make him comfortably the leading creative midfield star of the French national team.
But like a number of French stars before him, Nasri has allowed himself to enter a state where one small move can be the decider between a continued successful career or one doomed to nothing more than personal wealth.
Laurent Blanc described prior to Euro 2012 that he considered dropping Nasri altogether, “because he can be a pain in the a**.”
His manager at Manchester City also had similar concerns over Nasri’s behaviour, as paths were being explored to move Nasri on from the club and bring in a replacement.
A misguided talent, definitely. Nasri could have done so much more in football at this point.
He wants good players around him, that much is clear judging by his performances over the years with Franck Ribery, Cesc Fabregas and now David Silva by his side. But he also needs to be one of the central figures of a side, something which his lack of application doesn’t allow at City.
Time is definitely not against him, but he’s currently so entrenched in this phase that it’s difficult to see any way out in the near future. However, at the age of 25, Nasri may still be guided to alter his ways from a problematic talent and into a focused and valued member of a squad. It’s increasingly unlikely, though, that we’ll see this former Marseille midfielder follow in similar steps as Zidane before him.