Throughout the early stages of his career, Samir Nasri was touted as the next Zinedine Zidane despite being at the young age of 17. Now, the problem with labelling a player as good as the current world’s best player or a national icon, is that often that player will never complete that particular self-fulfilling prophecy. As a matter of fact, the player almost always go on to shape their own careers in a very different and unique way, some achieving success and some failing to meet the demands that the most elitist of football players require in order to attain a ‘god-like’ status, for example Zinedine Zidane. It is down to opinion whether Nasri is or will be as good as Zidane, but I certainly do not agree with the idea that Nasri ‘hasn’t been up to it’ this season or ‘hasn’t contributed as much as he should’.
After Arsenal signed Nasri in 2008 as a direct replacement for Alexander Hleb he quickly rose to the standard and style of football that is played at Arsenal. A passing game whereby the next player is always looking for a pass either to a team mate or into space, often resulting in a beautiful attacking move that is not only graceful on the eye but as lethal as it is flawless to look at.
However, it all turned sour when Nasri came out with the following statement:
“It is annoying. The work we do is not getting the credit it deserves because we are not winning silverware. It is unfair because I think we have more merit as a club than those who have built their teams with millions of pounds whereas Arsenal have brought in young footballers, who have come here to play a certain kind of football and who have developed." This was Nasri speaking about Arsenal's trophy drought, April 2010.
The seeds of doubt were first sewn through frustration of not being able to win trophies at Arsenal, although it appears all Arsenal footballers have been media trained to say something similar to the above about how bitter the club feels towards heavy and immediate investment in Premier League clubs. Although we know this is false after the £50 Million spent after Arsene Wenger’s arrival, signing the likes of Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Nicolas Anelka.
Whether Arsenal fans like it or not, Nasri made a great impact at Arsenal and the stats are there to prove it:
Appearances: 79 starts, 3 sub appearances
Pass completion: 87%
Moving to City wasn’t a decision it appears Nasri took lightly as there were talks of him having discussions with Manchester United for a lengthy time before news broke of our involvement. Samir had clearly had enough of the Emirates with both Manchester clubs looking for his signature, it hardly suggests that he simply left just for money when you look at the league table at Christmas and see the both clubs that were gunning for his signature 1st and 2nd respectively. The League Cup upset against Birmingham in February must have been the beginning of Nasri tilting his head toward the exit door and contemplating his future.
At City Nasri has found his first team opportunities slightly restricted because of the strength in depth and quality City have this season. However, this isn’t to deter from the fact that the player hasn’t contributed in great lengths to the success of the first half of the season.
It’s no coincidence that Nasri had his best two games for City this season in the two of the biggest away victories of the season against Blackburn (1 goal, 2 assists) and Tottenham Hotspur (3 assists) to illustrate that when playing in the side how effective and clinical he can be.
The slight mention of him not performing this season is clearly the work of individuals who have yet to find an unmentioned or undocumented player who hasn’t shone brightly enough to earn the plaudits of pundits, whether it’s television, radio or newspaper. The proof is in the pudding in Nasri’s first half season with the blues, complementing an average of 48 passes per game and a successful 93% pass completion statistic. Considering Nasri is an attacking midfielder, this shows how much a precise and intelligent player he is.
This creativity and intuition is then reinforced through the concept of ‘key passes’ in which a player has set up a goal scoring opportunity (according to @OptaJoe) from a pass. Nasri this season has made 26 keys passes and had 7 assists in the Premier League, hardly the type of form a ‘flop’ would be showing. He sits behind Mata and Nani before his team mate Silva sits on top of the creative list so far this season.
Perhaps the ridiculous claims made by the media that Nasri after half a season of being at City is a ‘flop’ is only because his fellow midfield creative genius that plays alongside him is currently one of the best players in the League, known better as David Silva.
If sitting on top of the Premier League after your first half season with the most scrutinised and pressured club in England means you’re a flop then does this suggest that because Lionel Messi outshines the rest of Barcelona team that players such as David Villa, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez are all flops too?
The time to judge Nasri is when he has completed a season at the Etihad and he has been allowed a season to gel with the team and the philosophy of football that surrounds him. Currently Nasri has been the fourth best creative influence in the Premier League this season, ahead of the likes of Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Michael Carrick, Mikel Arteta, Rafael Van der Vaart and many more. If that makes Nasri a flop then what does that mean for those mentioned above?
Ultimately Nasri can only continue in the way he has so far this season. He has been excellent in linking up with new team mates and can only go from strength to strength. If you’re outshone by Silva in a game, then there is absolutely no shame in that whatsoever.
Keep Calm & Pass to Nasri…….or Silva
The Invisible Man (@InvisibleManMC)