Samir Nasri looks set to leave Arsenal this summer after months of speculation about his future. By all accounts he will be heading to the Eastlands to ply his trade for an ever-growing Manchester City squad of mercenaries. If the rumors are to be believed, then Nasri will nearly double his current wages, and Arsenal will receive a tidy £22 million transfer fee. My response to all this? Good riddance.
In my opinion, Samir Nasri’s attitude perfectly represents the growing sense of entitlement among professional footballers. He wants the fans to believe that his unwillingness to sign a contract with Arsenal is down to his personal ambition. The money has nothing to do with his decision to make a move that doubles his wages. Instead, Samir Nasri must leave Arsenal because he wants to be a winner and he needs to go to a club where he can win things. I’m not sure where I’ve heard that before, but I’m willing to bet Denilson has some clue.
Rather than paraphrasing Nasri’s intentions, however, we should at least let his words speak for themselves. Earlier this summer, when questioned about his reluctance to sign for Arsenal and desire to force a move away from the Emirates, Nasri had this to say:
“We already earn huge wages. The priority is to make a big career and to win titles. I am hungry for titles. I play football because I love this sport and want to feel the emotion of winning. … With no titles under your belt, you can’t be in the list for the Ballon D’Or.”
Nasri wants you to be sympathetic with his plight. He wants you to understand that he’s not motivated by money but rather by the intense desire to win things. But he doesn’t want to win things for his club, or his teammates or his manager or his fans. He wants to make “a big career.” Samir Nasri wants to see his name on the list for the Ballon D’Or. Samir Nasri wants Samir Nasri to be successful. In his estimation, the only way to do that is to win titles. And if he has to make £120,000+ pounds per week in order to do that, then that’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make!
I want to make one thing clear: I do not begrudge Nasri his money. I can understand a person wanting to make more money and in Nasri’s case, there’s a lot more to be made. What I won’t accept and can’t forgive, is the suggestion that his ambitions can’t be met at Arsenal and that he’s moving for sporting reasons.
Unfortunately, Nasri’s complaints about Arsenal’s ambition come at a time when some fans are looking for any reason to criticize the club. There are growing pockets of supporters that believe Arsene Wenger has let them down and that the board have failed to deliver on promises of transfer activity. Supporters are questioning the club’s ambition and whether Arsenal really do consider fourth place to be an acceptable measure of success.
As a result of this frustration, fans are allowing themselves to be distracted by Nasri’s obfuscation. Some fans are siding with Nasri because it is another way to express their disappointment with Arsenal. But those fans are being seduced by meaningless drivel.
First and foremost, an ambitious player doesn’t leave a top club with 125 years of proud history in order to win a title. If Samir Nasri was truly an ambitious player deserving of having his name on the short-list for the Ballon D’Or, then surely he would be capable of helping lift Arsenal to their first league title since 2004. After all, Nasri is one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet. So if Arsenal failed to win the title last season, then Samir Nasri must have some responsibility for that fact.
That’s what so many footballers seem to forget. If the team doesn’t succeed, and you are a key part of the team, then you are indisputably part of the reason for failure. Moving to another club in search of success is just another way of refusing to acknowledge your own culpability for poor results.
Gael Clichy also moved to Manchester City and cited Arsenal’s flagging ambition as part of his motivation. It’s as if Gael doesn’t remember his many impressive contributions to Arsenal’s late season swoons. Had Gael Clichy kept his composure late in the match at St. Andrews in February of 2008, he might have won a title that season. But the player doesn’t want us to see it that way. He doesn’t want us to notice that he was part of the team that failed. He wants us to believe that someone else is to blame.
Moreover, looking at the size of Manchester City’s squad, Nasri must realize that he might spend plenty of time on their bench. But I suppose sitting on the bench doesn’t bother an ambitious player with dreams of a Ballon D’Or.
I find it difficult to understand why anyone takes Nasri’s demand for ambition seriously when you consider his opinion of the squad just one year ago. When discussing the 2009-10 Arsenal season Nasri said,
“This season has proved that we have everything to compete and we have learned so much. I am hoping that our squad will stay unchanged because we are really good and with a year more experience, we can achieve some great things next season.”
He hoped that the squad would “stay unchanged.” Hard to believe that one season later the same player would fail to re-sign a contract at Arsenal because the team lacked ambition.
Samir Nasri was in position to win trophies at Arsenal last season. He was in position to win those trophies in part, because of his excellent start to the season. But Arsenal didn’t win a single trophy last season. And if Nasri was part of the reason why we were in contention for silverware, then how can we ignore his role in the team’s failure to do so.
How would you feel if you were Theo Walcott reading that Samir Nasri wants to be the highest paid player at Arsenal? How would you like hearing that your teammate doesn’t think your team is ambitious enough. Theo scored 4 goals and tallied 5 assists from January to May. That was how Walcott showed ambition. That’s what he did to help Arsenal try to win a Premier League title. Meanwhile, Robin van Persie scored 18 goals and added 7 assists during that same period. What did Nasri do to demonstrate his title ambition?
From January 2 – May 22, Samir Nasri scored 1 Premier League goal and provided zero assists in 13 matches. Those are the cold, hard statistics of a player Manchester City value at £22 million. Those are the statistics of a man that claims Arsenal cannot match his ambition. Those are the statistics of a man that wants a “big career” and his name on the Ballon D’Or. And I would also suggest that those are the statistics of a young player, who didn’t have the staying power for an entire Premier League campaign, and couldn’t deliver when the club needed him most.
During that time, Nasri was a central figure in an Arsenal side that suffered 7 draws and a defeat in the Premier League. He was also on the pitch for all 90 minutes of Arsenal’s soul-crushing loss to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final. That was a golden opportunity for his club to win something tangible, and he was part of the reason that opportunity was squandered.
The truly ambitious player would look at those statistics and results and realize, that if he raises his game, perhaps his current club could raise a trophy. But Nasri doesn’t see it that way. He refuses to accept that maybe it’s not the club who have let him down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
But that’s unfair to the Frenchman. After all, he’s still young. When he arrived at Arsenal he acknowledged that he was an inexperienced player learning his trade. He came to Arsenal to improve as a player, knowing that Arsene Wenger was the perfect manager to help him progress. In his first interview at Arsenal he said,
“The fact that Arsène Wenger gives great opportunities to young players is very important for me. Arsène has a great reputation and he is one of the best managers in the world. He has proved that he puts a lot of confidence in the young players and he gives them a chance. It was very important for me to have such a great manager to work with and I’m really looking forward to working with both Arsène Wenger and all my new team-mates.”
So it was important to Nasri that he came to a team where young players could be given a chance. Now we are expected to forget all that. He doesn’t want Arsenal to be a club that’s good for young players anymore. He wants Arsenal to show “ambition” so that he can win some titles. Nasri is ready to have his “big career” now, so he wants Arsenal to scrap their existing model and do what’s in his best interest. After all, Arsenal did what was in his best interest before. When asked about his move to Arsenal after his first season, Nasri responded,
“I do not regret moving at all. I wanted to discover and live this football. At the age of 21 I did not want to leave for the sake of it, but because I knew that Arsenal had what is needed for me to feel good.”
Isn’t that nice? Arsenal had what Samir needed to feel good. At the age of 21, Arsenal gave him a chance to discover and live beautiful football. How very thoughtful of Arsenal. And Arsene Wenger did more for Nasri. He gave Nasri a platform to develop into a better player and increase his value. Samir even acknowledged this fact years ago when he stated,
“Arsene takes a group of players who are not so widely known and makes them masters for all the world to see.”
Now that Arsenal have helped the world see that Samir is becoming a master, he’s ready to cash in. It doesn’t matter if that’s what’s best for Arsenal, despite what Arsenal and Arsene Wenger clearly did for Nasri.
Just three short seasons after arriving as a developing 21 year old who wanted to “discover and live beautiful football,” Samir Nasri believes he is worthy of being the highest paid player at his club. He wants his big money contract now and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it. Even if that means holding his existing club for ransom, lying to its fans, and betraying the man who gave him his chance to shine on the big stage.
Some fans blame Arsenal for Nasri’s current contract situation. But what should the club have done? Should they have renegotiated Nasri’s contract last summer? At that time, they were talking to a player who had been at the club for 2 seasons, playing less than 30 league matches each campaign, and having totaled 8 league goals. It would’ve been irresponsible to reward a player with a massive contract after two such seasons. He had hardly shown the dependability and world-class productivity that a hefty contract demands.
Samir Nasri’s contract situation and his eventual departure from the club are simply consequences of the player’s attitude. No matter what he says about the sporting reasons for his move, he has orchestrated an outcome that suits him financially. His words and his actions belie his selfishness. I’m sure you’d get plenty of agreement from William Gallas or even Raymond Domenech who gave Nasri his first France call-up but then dropped him from the 2010 World Cup squad.
However, the most convincing argument against Nasri’s claims about ambition comes from the player himself. Remember, that this is a player who is asking you to believe he wants to move to Manchester City because he respects their ambition more than Arsenal’s. But if he respects the way they run their club so much, then why did he say this just one year ago:
“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 time, he’s hit the nail on the head. Arsenal are deserving of more credit as a club because of the way they are run. Because they bring in young players and develop them into “masters for all the world to see.” Nasri is correct. And it’s good of him to notice.
Frankly, Samir Nasri doesn’t care what Arsenal do in the transfer market. Last summer he said Arsenal should sign Chamakh. This summer he was supposedly recommending Gervinho to the club. But those signings didn’t make a bit of difference in his behavior.
Samir Nasri just really really likes money and Manchester City is going to give him a lot of it. That’s the way the world works and it would be naive to pretend otherwise. But spare me the sympathy for the poor millionaire footballer who just wants his club to show some ambition so he can achieve all his personal goals. It’s utter nonsense. I can understand why Nasri would want to go to City, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I say, let’s sell Samir Nasri to Manchester City for £22 million. It’s highway robbery for a player that has hardly proved he’s worth that kind of fee. Once he’s gone, maybe Nasri can ask Emmanuel Adebayor what it’s like leaving Arsenal for a big payday after one good season.
Or Matthieu Flammini.
Or Alex Hleb.
That’s quite an ambitious list he’s joining.