It’s a long way down from the top. Just last year, Samir Nasri‘s end of season form was crucial to Manchester City‘s title run-in as he provided composure and ball-retention on either flank, after being on the bench for so long he was now a vital part of the team. Now he is reeling from public criticism dished out by Roberto Mancini and finds himself more often than not back on the bench and facing the ignominy of being transferred away at an £8-£9 million loss.
The French international is now facing the end of his Manchester City career as the Sky Blues look for more creative options on the flank and the favourites for his signature are newly rich Ligue 2 side Monaco who are looking to buy their way out of the French second division. But what has gone wrong for Nasri this season, and has he really been operating “at 50%” as Mancini says?
Ball recycling isn’t enough
Nasri left Arsenal seeking trophies (and maybe the odd cash instalment) but while he has always dreamt of playing in the hole for a top European club, this hasn’t been the case at Manchester City where he finds himself on the wing in a two-sided role. He is there to create from out wide by cutting in but also to make it difficult for other teams to penetrate through the middle by tucking in when they have the ball. His efforts with the ball have been good, a pass completion rate of 91% is excellent.
But as the graph above shows only 54% of these are forward passes, indicating a lack of incisive play. Nasri has created 32 chances this season although mostly from set-pieces where he has an array of enormous men to aim at hence his tally of only 3 assists.
Nasri has just the one Premier League goal to his name this season. While he was never a supposed threat at Arsenal, his composure along with some of his solo efforts led you to believe he might potential as a goalscoring threat but this hasn’t materialised as he seems to lack some of the drive he had in North London. In fact, he’s only attempted eight shots in eighteen appearances.
While it’s in no doubt whatsoever that Nasri is a quality footballer, his efforts this season and Mancini’s public criticism have obviously led to him not only being marginalised but short of alternative options. The Frenchman is only 25 though, and it’s surely a matter of finding a club that can be the right fit for him to find some of his best form again, maybe a promotion battle could re-inspire him?
By Nic English