Following the irreplaceable Paul Scholes’ retirement this summer, there has been plenty of speculation as to who will be taking his place in the squad next year, and beyond.
Initially linked with both Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric, it seems one player who has entered Sir Alex Ferguson’s radar more recently is Arsenal’s #8, Samir Nasri; who only has 12 months left on his contract and is available for nearly £20m less than both Sneijder and Modric.
One player, in particular, who would like to see the Frenchman is arrive is the sometimes outspoken Patrice Evra, who recently had this to say:
“I have been at Manchester United for five years and I can’t remember how many trophies I have won… 13? 15?.. ‘Petit Prince’, if you want to be a King, you know where you have to go.”
In this article, I hope to tell you a bit more about the Frenchman and discuss whether, or not, he is the type of player Sir Alex and his team should be looking at this summer.
About Samir Nasri, 23, £15m/£20m
Born in Marseilles, on 26th June 1987, Narsi joined joined Olympic Marseilles at 9 years old, where he gained the nickname ‘le Petit Prince’. Progressing well through the Academy, and French junior sides, Nasri made his debut for the senior team during the 2004/05 season and made 24 appearances, at just 17 years old.
In the same year, the Frenchman scored the only goal in the UEFA Under-17 Championship final, putting in a performance worthy of his prodigious talent and naturally progressed to the senior team in 2007, when he won his first senior international cap, against Austria, on March 15th 2007; scored his first international goal, in a Euro 2008 qualifier, against Georgia, on June 6th of the same year.
A member of Génération 1987, a group of French internationals including Hatem Ben Arfa, Karim Benzema and Jérémy Menez, Nasri has always been admired for his amazing dribbling and was awarded French Ligue 1′s Young Player of the Year, in 2007, ahead of current Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.
Aged just 20, Samir Nasri was named as the youngest member of France’s European Championship squad, in 2008, before making his move to Arsenal, for £15 million, as a replacement for Alex Hleb. Making an immediate impact, he scored on his against West Brom and famously bagged a brace against us in November 2008.
However, he didn’t really fulfill his true potential until this season, when he was easily one of the players of the season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions. Filling in for the injured Cesc Fabergas, Nasri singe-handedly kept Arsenal’s title hopes alive up to March, before he suffered a dip in form towards the end of the season.
Strengths: Samir Nasri is a clever, stylish play-maker; who is able to play in wide, central and attacking midfield roles. Boasting formidable technical ability, his vision and imagination makes him an outstanding player.
Nasri’s dazzling dribbling, precise passing and superb ball speed, coupled with his ability to use to his two feet has made the “Petit Prince” a possible heir to Zidane’s throne in France’s midfield.
Gilles Grimandi, an Arsenal scout, once described Nasri as “a fantastic athlete, he’s quick, flexible and good with his feet”.
Weaknesses: Despite craving a regular place in the middle of the park at the Emirates, Nasri has been put out wide because he lacks the defensive discipline of Wilshere and Fabregas, as he is prone to not tracking back and helping out in defense.
If he is ever to aspire to the likes of Zidnae, who he is often compared to, due to their Algerian heritage, or even Paul Scholes, he must be more consistent.
The Castrol Rankings is the world’s first rankings system based on the actual performance of every football player across Europe’s top five leagues. Collecting data from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, each player’s performance, in these leagues, is measured objectively and translated into a figure. Each month, these results are released and show just how well players are actually playing, in a fair and scientific manner.
Using this system, I have decided to also compare Nasri’s statistics with one of the Premier League’s best midfielders and fellow United target, Luka Modrić. Both plying their trade in England, and the Champions League, over the last year, I believe this is one of the fairest comparisons I can make.
If we view the graph we can see that Nasri had a consistent year, staying in the Top 100 most of the time, while Modrić generally had a quiet 12 months before showing a marked showed improvement near the end of last season. This data does suggestion that Nasri’s all round game may be better than Modrić’s and make me question whether he is really worth ₤20 million better than the Frenchman?
The figures below shows that both midfielders have enjoyed exceptional seasons. In terms of scoring, Nasri has the upper hand with 10 goals in the Premier League, having hit an impressive 62.9& of his shots on target- highlighting just how good he is going forward and how dangerous he could be playing in the right Red shirt.
Similarly, although he has played less games than Modrić (and therefore made less passes), his past success rate is a phenomenal 86.1%. Nonetheless, Modrić is no slouch either with 1717 successful passes at a success rate of 85.8%. Interestingly, despite these figures I would suggest that Modrić has better ball distribution than Nasri and that Nasri is possibly benefiting from playing with better players.
Stats- wise, it seems to me that that both players are fairly equal but Nasri does seem to have a cutting edge that Croatian counterpart may lack- even though he would be available at half the price!
At the tender age of 23, Nasri has already established himself has one of the best players in the Premier League and most certainly has the potential to become an all-time great. With his best years still ahead of him, his current ₤18 million price tag could prove a bargain!
Personally, under the tutelage of Sir Alex, I believe that the Little Prince could well become one of the best players in the world if he was to move to the Theatre of Dream. Young, talented and vitally experienced, Nasri has all the attributes to become a King at the Theatre of Dreams, just as Patrice Evra said so.
A proud Trinidadian, Kiran has been in love with Manchester United ever since Dwight Yorke started banging in the goals all those years ago. Citing the 2 1 win, at the Nou Camp (Can They Score, Man United Always Score), as his favourite United moment, Kiran watches every match religiously but focuses on his academics away from the TV screen. Follow him on Twitter here.