Samir Nasri, the French international attacking midfielder who has been carefully nurtured from a precocious talent into one on the verge of becoming a genuine world-class performer, by Arsene Wenger and Arsenal football club for the last three seasons, could be about to temper his relationship with those at the Emirates Stadium, as he continues to flirt with the amorous glances being thrown in his direction by Manchester United.
PFA Player of the Year candidate Nasri, outstanding for the Gunners in the first half of the season as they looked like genuine title contenders, but whose performances post the League Cup final debacle against Brmingham City dipped drastically (albeit not as much as some of his team-mates), has one year left on his contract at Ashburton Grove, but is believed to have become disillusioned with life at the club. He remains uncertain as to whether the club can challenge for top honours against the likes of United, Chelsea and big-spending Manchester City.
Nasri, 23, is in the position of power, knowing that he has only one year left on his contract, and that the club would have to sell him this summer for a reduced fee – somewhere in the region of £15m, at which price there would be no shortage of takers – or be loathe to let him leave on a free transfer next summer if they cannot agree a new deal.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, is a known admirer going back to Nasri’s days as a much-feted youngster at Marseille, whilst defender and international team-mate Patrice Evra has recently urged Nasri to make the move to Old Trafford. Further afield, european powerhouses like Real Madrid, Internazionale, Milan and Bayern Munich have also passed admiring looks at the playmaker. Nonetheless, it would be defection to Manchester that would be the most bitter of pills to swallow for the Arsenal supporters and hierarchy.
And Nasri, a fleet-footed performer on the pitch, has proved just as slippery off it, giving no clarification in his latest interview over his future, and refusing to play down the links concerning himself and the 19-time English league champions.
“I don’t know if I will sign a new contract” Nasri told TF1’s Telefoot. “Anyway, the discussions are ongoing.
“For the moment, I don’t think about this. We will speak about it after the match with Poland.
“Do I want to go to Man United? First, we should see if it’s real and if it is concrete.”
Hardly the declaration of eternal love that Gunners fans will have been hoping for from the French schemer. But can we blame him?
For when he sees his side falling behind in the Premier League arms race against their competitiors – whilst watching United compete in two of the last three European Cup finals – can Nasri be blamed for contemplating moving on to give himself the best opportunity to win silverware? Categorically, the answer is no.
In all honesty, a move from Arsenal, a mere training school according to Evra, to United, would see Nasri move from also-rans to perennial favourites, from the pace-setting horse who always falls by the wayside, to the thoroughbread who is always in the winners enclosure.
The Frenchman has had much creative license given to him during his time at Arsenal, but upon being greeted by failure all too often, has been protected by the club’s manager Arsene Wenger.
A move to United would be a step in the right direction for his career, a move to a club that doesn’t take failure lightly. At United, you learn to win things quickly, and if you can’t handle the pressure you are moved on and replaced.
If Nasri is to reach his pinnacle as a footballer then this ‘winning mentality’ is something that he must learn. And a move to Old Trafford would give him the platform to prove himself as one of world football’s most cultured performers, and more importantly, the opportunity to put trophies on his mantelpiece.