Samir Nasri was born in 1987, a vintage year for French football, boasting the likes of Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Loic Remy and Jeremy Menez, a collective that won the European U-17 Championships together in 2004. Despite currently gracing some of Europe’s most prestigious sides and maintaining lofty reputations, the accusation is that this gilded generation has yet to maximise their true potential.
Yet since moving to Manchester City in the summer, Nasri has thus far flattered to deceive and is struggling to hold down a regular first team berth. Completing 90 minutes on only nine occasions for his new club, Nasri has been substituted in 17 of his 32 games, also appearing from the bench 6 times. He has contributed four goals and seven assists, three of which during his debut in a 5-1 win at White Hart Lane, but his efforts have been overshadowed by the stunning form of David Silva.
Silva has seven goals and 12 assists in 35 games and is established as the creative fulcrum of the Manchester City side, he has also been at the club for 12 months longer than Nasri and has duly adapted to Roberto Mancini’s methods and style of play. On the subject of facilitating Nasri and Silva in the same side, Mancini revealed in an article on fifa.com: “When you play with two strikers, Samir and David, you have more chances because you attack. But there will be some moments when it is difficult to support all the offensive players all the time.”
Nasri moved to shed light on the situation, defending his performances in an interview with the Daily Mirror. “It’s not the same here as Arsenal,” he explained. “At Arsenal, I was playing a little bit higher and here we are 4-4-2, so you have to work more defensively. So it’s difficult, but it doesn’t matter if I play in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, I want to show everyone it wasn’t a mistake.” Mancini has since moved to defend Nasri, explaining in the same Daily Mirror article: “I think that when you change teams, you have some problems in the first three or four months, but Samir is a high-quality player. He has improved a lot in the last two or three months.”
A spiky character, Nasri will relish the challenge of playing his way in to Mancini’s favoured first eleven. Nasri remained on the bench for the duration of City’s perfunctory 3-0 win against Blackburn at the weekend, with Silva, Adam Johnson, Yaya Toure and Nigel De Jong preferred, and David Pizarro and James Milner also introduced in the second-half. Nasri excelled playing wide for both Marseille and Arsenal before he became entrusted with a more central berth, and with fierce competition in the middle at Manchester City, following this template may prove to be his best chance of making an immediate impact.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Man City v Bolton