When Arsenal’s Samir Nasri refused to rule out a move to Old Trafford this weekend he not only sparked huge controversy, he also raised the football’s ultimate taboo subject – crossing over to the enemy.
There has been much speculation about the French midfielder’s future and when stories linking him with United first broke they were pretty dismissed by all quarters. Patrice Evra attempted to jovially advise his French national team mate by advising the ‘petite prince’ to come to Old Trafford if he wants to become a king.
This only served to make light of the situation but any laughs from Arsenal fans will have ended with Nasri’s comments to Telefoot.
Nasri signalled his intentions telling the French sports programme,
“I don’t know if I will sign a new contract, the discussions are ongoing.
“Do I want to go to United? First, we should see if it’s real and concrete.”
Nasri, who is in the last year of his deal at the Emirates, will have attracted the ire of Arsenal fans the length of the land with his comments and after scoping a few of their blogs the grumbling from disgruntled Gooners has begun.
But it is not just Arsenal fans that are opposed to Nasri travelling up the M6 as I have seen some United fans speak out against any potential move.
At it’s height, the United/Arsenal rivalry was as fierce as any onfield and matches guaranteed drama. Whilst the games’ have simmered down the ill will is still there amongst fans (I think Arsenal fans celebrated Barca’s win over us in the Champions League final just as much, if not more than the Catalans for various different reasons).
When Evra advised Nasri about his future he added,
Anyway, if Samir comes (to United), he has to know there is no room for mistakes. Each year you are playing to win. That is Manchester’s culture.
Many felt this was a veiled barb at Arsenal’s seemingly annual meltdowns and the fact Nasri ‘comes from a team of bottlers’ has been used as a critique by a small section of fans.
I decided to do my own little bit of research on The Busby Way’s Facebook page and the results were all positive even if some concern was expressed.
Everything aside Nasri is undoubtedly a good player. Technically sound, good in possession of the ball with great dribbling and passing and no slouch athletically I know more than a few Arsenal fans that claimed they would not miss Cesc Fabregas if he left for Barca earlier this season because Nasri was performing so well.
Even though his season tailed off that shouldn’t be used as an indication of his ability, beyond Wilshere and Van Persie I can think of few Arsenal players that can say they had good seasons. He stood out early for Arsenal, is a French international and it’s not like this has been a breakout season for him so questions over his ability go out of the window.
With all that said the question turns to Nasri crossing the so called divide.
With just a year left on his contract, Arsenal are in no position to play about and could face the prospect of losing him on the free so he is forcing their hand. If he was to insist that he wanted to join United they would be forced to play ball and sell to United now or even worse lose him for nothing a year down the line so talk of Arsenal not doing business with United is a non point.
Nasri’s will have known that his comments would alienate him from the fans that called him ‘super’ Samir Nasri so I doubt the prospect of actually moving to United will bother him. In this modern era of football one of the biggest ‘problems’ is the so called mercenary footballer who is happy to jump ship to who can offer the highest wage.
Fernando Torres was accused of being a mercenary when he joined Chelsea in January, there were fears that our own Wayne Rooney may have been on his way to Man City when he declared he was ready to leave United in October and most recently, despite taking a paycut to join us, Newcastle fans have derided Michael Owen for being such.
It is obvious that this will be the insult of choice from Arsenal fans who are already insinuating that Nasri’s contract talks have stalled because he is holding out for £110k a week but what if his move is purely for career development?
Frank Lampard made the jump from West Ham to Chelsea and it has definitely bettered his career (as well as his bank balance) and whilst he is hated at the club he grew up at, it doesn’t appear to bother him as seen by his celebration in Chelsea’s most recent win over their London rivals.
Nasri doesn’t have that same connection with Arsenal that Lampard will have had with West Ham and if that isn’t enough example then I point you in the direction of his fellow countryman and also former Marseille player Eric Cantona.
The rivalry between Leeds and United is by far fiercer than that between United and Arsenal and Cantona was able to cross the Pennines and go on to become one of United’s greatest players ever. A move to United would be a step up for Nasri both financially as well as in terms of his development, it may seem harsh but the gap between Arsenal and United is getting wider. In Nasri’s time at Arsenal he will have seen United win the league twice as well as make two Champions League finals (one of those times at his expense).
The lines between loyalty to club and self are becoming blurred as more and more money is introduced into the game thus allowing words like mercenary to be used more frequently.
Personally I would like for us to sign Nasri, I rate him higher than some of the players we have been linked with but I think it is unlikely. His comments may have been said to improve his deal at Arsenal but from reading, I feel he has a massive amount of respect for Wenger and could/will be persuaded to sign a new deal.