Nasri’s Position Pivotal To Arsenal’s Short Term Success
Arsenal face the real prospect of struggling to qualify for Champions League football if want away French maestro Samir Nasri does eventually leave the club to ply his silky trade for another club; be it in Manchester or on the continent.
The importance of Nasri and skipper Cesc Fabregas to the North London club is of such a magnitude that to lose both of them in a summer seemingly poised to smack of revolution rather than evolution for the Gunners would be bearing on catastrophic. It is without doubt that the money generated in their sales would be of great use, with £60million, if reports are to be believed, coming into the club. The problem that manager Arsene Wenger has to face, however, is that there simply aren’t players around in the transfer market who can even begin to replicate the quality and brilliance that the two midfielders have brought to the club for the last few seasons.
The seemingly sudden way in which Nasri’s contract discussions have spiralled into one of the biggest transfer stories of the close season has probably taken a lot of people, including those close to the club, by complete surprise. Nasri, along with Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, played a starring role in the early months of the season as he finally began to add multiple goals to all his round fantastic approach play. Skilful, fast and visionary, the 23 year old Frenchman earned plenty of plaudits before a dip in form, perhaps due to tiredness that was a result of Arsenal’s energetic foray into the latter stages of four competitions, saw him fall away slightly from the spotlight. Still, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year, a testament to his phenomenal early season form. All seemed well, and the Arsenal hierarchy stepped in earlier this summer with an attractive offer of a four year deal and £90,000 a week. To see Nasri turn down the offer was surprising. To see the situation now, merely a fortnight later, where it is believed that he has told Arsenal that he wants to leave and that Manchester City have agreed a fee for the player, is quite astounding.
Many Arsenal fans have come to accept that Fabregas will go back to Barcelona this summer. To also see Nasri leave, especially if it is to join a fierce rival who will battle with them for the Premiership title and Champions League qualification, would surely be very difficult to comprehend. Arsenal play the most attractive football in the Premiership, and many believed that substance added to the subtlety, purchases of players like the rumoured Gary Cahill’s, Chris Samba’s and Jose Enrique’s, would help Arsenal to end their six year search for silverware. Instead, it is the subtlety that looks destined to depart, leaving the club with little scope to bring in players of similar quality. The Ivorian Gervinho, albeit with a fantastic record in the French League whilst playing for dominant Champions Lille, will need time to settle into his new surroundings if his transfer goes through as expected. Aside from this, no other players seem close to moves to the Emirates; paper talk linked players like Stewart Downing and Kevin Doyle to the club, and both are excellent, Premiership proven players in their own right. Neither are nearly as masterly as Nasri or Fabregas.
The continuation of strength in depth from Manchester United and Chelsea, obscene wealth of Manchester City and resurgence of Liverpool suggests that the Gunners are the club currently looking over their shoulders rather than confidently looking up. It is a slow burner of a situation that began in agony last season; self-inflicted defeat at Wembley to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final, a game almost everybody expected Arsenal to win, raised questions about the club’s mental strength. The well documented collapse that followed underscored the questions. If the instigators of the craft and guile that Arsenal are now renowned for move on, then it will be both the skill set and the desire to win that will be lacking within the club. It is such a serious situation that it may even spell the end for Arsene Wenger, the club’s most successful manager. Ironically, it is he who will have to do his utmost in order to keep his best players at the club as well as bringing in quality arrivals to add to an impressive, yet under-achieving squad. If Fabregas is a lost cause, then the tying of Nasri to a new long term contract is of vital importance to the short term future of Arsenal.
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