The transfer season is always known for its twists and turns. Rumors fall in and out and as a result, trying to follow it all can be just plain maddening. Manchester United is no exception and yesterday they offered potentially the biggest twist of the summer.
Samir Nasri, the French midfielder who – after years of waiting to meet his potential – had the breakout season he was headed for in 2010-11. His play in Arsenal’s constantly fluid midfield was breathtaking as he showed great vision, creativity, speed and overall ability. In what was a decidedly off-year for Cesc Fabregas, Nasri took over as the key player to Arsenal’s persistent attack. He was constantly referred to as a nominee for Premier League player of the season as Arsenal, for a long-time, were seen as the main title contenders to United.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Nasri’s four year deal comes to a close after next season and they are struggling to keep a hold of the young French star. His future with the team had been speculated on for a while but Nasri put it aside to focus on the season. After a miserable year for the London team which saw them go from Premier League contenders to fourth place stragglers, losing to Barcelona after beating them at their own game in the first leg, and shockingly losing to the relegated Birmingham City for the Carling Cup, you would think it couldn’t get worse for the Gunners. It turns out, that’s not the case at all.
Nasri, after avoiding contract talks, now seems more unwilling to discuss his future with Arsenal. To add to the team’s misery, he’s now thinking about joining their hated rival Manchester United at a value of just £8 million. While speaking to a French newspaper, Nasri was quoted as saying “I don’t know if I will sign a new contract. 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.” Whether or not the quote is taken out of context is unknown, but just reading this must give Arsenal fans a poignant shiver.
At the same time that Manchester United are in talks with Samir Nasri to purchase the player for £8 million, Liverpool are in talks with Gael Clichy in a potential £5 million transfer.
While Clichy would be a huge loss for the Gunners, Arsene Wenger’s major dilemma – as if he really needed any more stress – is the diminutive midfielder. Nasri would be entering the last season of his deal and if the team fails to come to an agreement, he could even leave as a free transfer. Right now, if Arsenal tries to sell him, they can turn in some profit by having teams buy out the rest of his deal. And that is around £8 million. Eight million pounds! Just the idea that a player as skilled and talented as Nasri would go for such a low price is mind-boggling.
Nasri is busy right now playing for his country as they try and bounce back from their horrible form of late. One of his countrymen is United star Patrice Evra, who has been cited by many sources as having an influential effect on Nasri’s thought-process. Nasri, in regards of the prospects of there being a United deal, stated that he wants to see if it’s realistic enough to be taken seriously. Who knows what Nasri is trying to do? For all we know, this could be Nasri’s way of getting Arsenal to feel desperate and go all out to retain his services. It could also mean Evra has perhaps convinced his younger cohort that playing at United would be the greatest thing that could ever happen for him. And who’s to say that Patrice is wrong.
Nasri is only twenty-four and he may already be tired of losing as painfully as only Arsenal seems to know how. His form in the second half of the season dipped which was probably due to the disappointment of being on a team that has the potential but lacks the resolve to win. Nasri wants to be on a team that has proved that it can win consistently and besides Barcelona, is there a better team out there than United? The answer is frankly no — especially after this year where after everyone was saying how this was one of the worst United squads Ferguson ever had, they silenced their critics by capturing another title proving that they are the best English team right now. Who wouldn’t blame Nasri for wanting to be apart of the action?
Having Nasri would be downright unfair for United’s rivals. He can be a perfect replacement for Paul Scholes in terms of pace, creativity, and play-making ability. His preferred position is in the central midfield, which would be excellent for United. He could fit well with United as his technical ability and speed is unquestionable. Nasri could continue to get better under the tutelage of Paul Scholes himself who is now apart of Ferguson’s staff of coaches. Having Nasri could be an answer to United’s struggles in midfield in terms of controlling the game and adding explosive creativity that would make it harder for opponents to prepare for.
Those against Nasri would say he could never fit in with United and their fans because of his days at Arsenal, which would make him hated. That kind of ignorant thinking only stifles the potential of any team because in the world of transfer market, players are always moving around regardless of rivalries or what others think. Footballers look for the best situations in terms of either being able to make the most money or being able to win as much as possible. Once Nasri would start playing well for United, most negative feelings of the past would fade away from everyone excluding the most bitter.
And for Arsenal, while the thought of selling Nasri to United would be difficult, it feels like it may need to be done. Unless Arsenal throws the bank at Nasri, he’s probably going out after next year. The idea of having a guy around for another year to just avoid the seemingly inevitable sounds eerily familiar to Arsenal considering the Fabregas saga. Judging by the Spaniard’s play this year, it seems obvious that he wants to leave and Arsenal is holding onto him against his will. As a result, Fabregas had a season where he regressed as he lacked the old leadership and drive he had in past years. This could easily happen with Nasri as well as he would likely feel he’s stuck on a team he doesn’t want to play for and then leave for nothing to gain for Arsenal next summer. Rather than waste his and Arsenal’s time, Wenger should seriously consider dealing him now for any profit at all because holding onto a guy who may want to leave is delaying the inevitable.
In terms of United, getting Nasri for his price would frankly be a steal. It would free up United’s summer budget enough so that they can focus on getting other top talents like Wesley Sneijder or stock up with a number of important but more affordable targets, which would only add to the incredible depth of the team. Samir Nasri, in my mind, would be a wonderful addition for the Red Devils.