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Nasri relishing Antalyaspor ‘challenge’ after Manchester City exit

Istanbul (AFP) – Former French international midfielder Samir Nasri on Tuesday said he was relishing the challenge of playing for Antalyaspor, after signing for the Turkish Super Lig team following six years at Manchester City.

Nasri stunned many by signing on Monday for the team from Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city, which was only promoted to the Turkish top flight three seasons ago and has yet to qualify for Europe.

But Nasri, likely relieved to have escaped being left in the wilderness under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City this season, said he had found the challenge he wanted.

“I am a guy who likes a challenge, I don’t like to go somewhere where I am used to winning,” Nasri said at a welcoming ceremony in Antalya’s historic city centre as hundreds of boisterous Turkish fans chanted his name. 

“I like to be the winner, I like to change. I like to make history. 

“And I think this club and this city deserve to have the best club in Turkey. And I want to be part of it and I want to make history,” he added. 

Nasri revealed that he had been in discussions with the better known Istanbul clubs but plumped for Antalyaspor after being impressed by the vision of club chairman Ali Safak Ozturk.

“The discussions were really long for this transfer to happen. I had discussions with other clubs in Istanbul but I choose Antalyaspor because of this guy,” he said, gesturing at Ozturk. 

Nasri, 30, will earn an annual salary of four million euros ($4.7 million) plus bonuses at the club, Turkish news reports have said.

Nasri joined Manchester City in 2011 after three seasons at Arsenal, emerging as one of their key players and winning the Premier League title in the 2011/2012 and 2013/2014 seasons.

But he then fell out of favour after injury. He has since also bowed out of international football.

Antalyaspor are one of Turkey’s most ambitious sides, despite only winning promotion to the Super Lig in 2015, and want to break the league domination of the Istanbul giants.

They were disappointed to finish the 2015-16 season in ninth place but improved to fifth place last term, just missing out on a spot in the Europa League.

Antalyaspor’s key player over the past two seasons has been former Cameroon international striker Samuel Eto’o. This summer the team also signed France international and former Roma and AC Milan playmaker Jeremy Menez from Bordeaux.

Antalyaspor got off to a slow start to the season, losing 2-0 away to champions Besiktas and then drawing 2-2 with Akhisarspor on Sunday. Nasri’s first appearance will be away to Malatyaspor at the weekend.

“I can’t wait to play Saturday and show you my quality,” said Nasri.

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