During his two years at Arsenal, Samir Nasri has been a good player. There is a sense however, that he has not yet consistently performed to the potential he displayed at Marseille where he was branded the ‘new Zidane’. Although these comparisons are overused, Liverpool fans will know all about Bruno Cheyrou, they rarely come without some back-up and Nasri is a player with a lot of talent, and that is what persuaded the usually frugal Arsene Wenger to part with £12.5 million for the then 21 year old. Now at 23, Samir Nasri along with several other Arsenal players, needs to step it up to another level and become the top-class player he has the ability to be. If he can do this, he could be one of Arsenal’s most important players and could play a pivotal role in the Gunners’ quest for trophies this season.
Samir Nasri was widely regarded as a star of the future during his time at Marseille, a club where he made his league debut at just 17 years of age. In 2007 he won the award for the best young player in Ligue One and it was year later that Arsenal swooped to sign him, beating off competition from a number of top European clubs in the process. Nasri came with a fairly hefty price-tag, but his arrival was welcomed by Gunners’ fans as one of the most exciting prospects in European football. In his first two seasons at Arsenal one word has really summed up Samir Nasri; inconsistent. The player has looked like a world beater on occasion and has shown touches of brilliance, his superb solo effort in a Champions League tie against Porto last season particularly springs to mind, as well as a brace he scored against Manchester United in 2008 which won Arsenal the game. The problem for Nasri has been consistency, he will have a great game followed by an anonymous one. In the Frenchman’s defence he has experienced injury problems, and he is of course still a young player; inconsistency is often the curse of inexperience.
At 23 though, Nasri is not the callow youth he once was. Surprisingly omitted from the French World Cup squad, although Nasri might now be glad about this fact, he will want to perform for his club and force his way into Laurent Blanc’s newly forged plans. Arsenal fans will be hoping to see Nasri inject the consistency a top-class player requires into his game. Nasri is certainly not alone in the list of players who have not yet fulfilled their full potential at Arsenal, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner are all in a similar position to Nasri. Arsene Wenger has been banking on players such as these to move their game up a gear for the past few seasons, but as of yet these wishes have not materialised.
In Arsenal’s game against Liverpool, in the absence of Cesc Fabregas Nasri was played in a central position, as he was during much of the end of last season, with Andrei Arshavin and Emmanuel Eboue employed on the wings. At such an early stage in the season it is difficult to predict what formation or personnel Wenger will settle upon, but this is position Nasri can grow into. He has excellent technique, vision and is a good passer of the ball, with Fabregas likely to leave next summer, Wenger may well be grooming him as Fabregas’ replacement. It remains to be seen whether Nasri can consistently step up to this role, but his ability is not in question and if he can perform this season, the potential blow of losing Fabregas next year could well be softened.