Some very interesting comments from Samir Nasri about his transfer to Man City in 2011. Ignoring Nasri’s ridiculous claim the deal was not about the money, when we all know that was what is was all about, his comments about it from Arsenal’s perspective are interesting.
If you remember Nasri was going into the last year of his contract at Arsenal, and had basically said he was not going to sign a new deal with the Gunners. That was also the summer that Cesc Fabregas went to Barcelona, and according to Nasri, Wenger told him that only one would be sold:
“Cesc [Fabregas], who quit for Barcelona the same summer] or me were supposed to leave” Nasri told French TV chanel beIN Sport. “Arsene told me that if Cesc would leave, I would stay. But Kroenke could not ignore the transfer fee.”
So accordng to Nasri, Arsene Wenger went into that preseason with the plan to build his midfield around either Cesc or Nasri and that he was prepared to let Nasri walk for free last summer.
But the board (Kroenke, Gazidis?) said no, that £24m was too much to turn down for a player who could leave for nothing in 12 months. So the board said, take the money.
This all happened a week before the transfer windows closes, and Wenger is in scramble mode as the season has already started. So he goes and buys Mikel Arteta and gets Benayoun on loan to plug the holes left by Fabregas and Nasri. As much as I dislike Nasri, even I understand that Arteta and Benayoun are nowhere near the players that Nasri is.
Arsene Wenger gets hammered in the press for not buying quality and as a result not winning trophies. We will never know, but I wonder how much of this is due to Wenger not willing to spend and the board handcuffing his ability to buy quality players?
The Nasri deal indicates to me that it is more the latter than the former. And if that is true, for Arsene Wenger to keep Arsenal in the top four over the last five years, with no real net spend, and an exodus of outstanding talent, has to be one of the best managerial jobs of all time.