- Comparing Arsenal today with the Arsenal of the unbeaten season
- The last time we had 74+ points from 31 games was….
Nasri played 166 times for Marseille scoring 12 goals before moving to Arsenal in 2008. He left the club at the start of the 2011/12 having played 125 games and scored 27 goals. His goal scoring had doubled and his reputation for arrogance was secured.
After leaving Arsenal, Manchester City bought him and this time he played 176 games and scored 27 goals before moving on through a career’s tailend with short spells with Savilla, Antalyaspor, West Ham and Anderlecht. He retired in 2020 having played 519 games.
He never won any trophies with Arsenal but did win the Intertoto Cup with Marseille, and the Premier League twice with Manchester City, as well as the league cup.
He signed professionally for Marseille when he was 17 but revealed a bit in his article in Le Matin about his early life – and I think it is interesting to consider in relation to the young players we see coming through at Arsenal.
According to the interview Nasri joined Marseille at the age of 12, and they gave him a driver who would pick him up from school, in the year before he signed his first contract aged 13. “They gave a signing bonus for my father to buy a car, and I got 150,000 francs,” (about £14,000 at the time).
He also reports that he could have signed for Arsenal on a free at the end of his contract but he felt a debt to Marseille and so signed a new contract before then moving to Arsenal in 2008.
However, he now says that “the Premier League is not necessarily the league that attracts me the most. I started watching it with the French players at Marseille, and then met with Arsène Wenger, during the season and Wenger told me his plans, how he wants his team to play, and how I would fit into the team.”
He also says in the interview that he was sold on Arsenal because Arsenal had a reputation for playing young players, while also making it into the Champions League each year. At the same time Real Madrid and Barcelona were making offers for him, but he chose Arsenal because of the way it would allow him to develop.
Interestingly in the interview he describes Real Madrid and Barcelona as “washing machines,” – at least that is the literal translation. The suggestion is players come, are churned around until they are finished, and then hung out to dry.
But there is another side to Nasri that is revealed in the interview – a side in which he puts himself ahead of any other thoughts – despite that desire to help Marseille which he recounts at the start of the interview. He tells it like this…
“I was on vacation in Los Angeles when the coach called me for the Euro 2014 qualifying matches. I said I was injured. He told me to try to do a session and tell him again. No problem! I laid down by the pool and got a tan. An hour and a half later, he called me back and I told him my knee was too sore. After that, I played the games in Georgia, Belarus. I played Australia at the Parc des Princes. Then we lost the first game against Ukraine, where I was a starter. From then on, it was over. Several versions came out. Some talk about complaints about my behaviour there. But a defeat was not the end of the world for me. I’m not going to stop living because we lost a game. Even if we don’t qualify for a World Cup. You’re healthy, your family is fine…it’s just football.”
It is an attitude of self-interest which I think came over during his time at Arsenal, and which clearly Wenger would have been aware of. But I suspect the manager was willing to let that pass in order to latch onto a player of talent that Arsenal could afford.
However, I think some of us will still remember the supposed dispute between Gallas and Nasri which apparently did cause disharmony in the Arsenal camp. And Nasri’s comment about it is curiously oblique.
Galas had claimed that Nasri and Thierry Henry didn’t get on, and on this Nasri replies, “When I started out in the French national side, Henry had been out with a back injury and I had been sitting in a place on the coach which, on his return, turned out to be where he sat. As soon as I discovered that I got up and let him sit down. Many people were looking for excuses because we had done badly in the Euros but I certainly don’t think you can blame that on the fact that I sat in Thierry Henry’s seat.”
So apparently it’s all about where you sit. What a curious world these footballers inhabit.
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