Samir Nasri

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Samir Nasri
Samir Nasri Euro 2012 v2.jpg
Nasri with France at UEFA Euro 2012
Personal information
Full nameSamir Nasri[1]
Date of birth(1987-06-26) 26 June 1987 (age 27)[1]
Place of birthMarseille, France
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing positionAttacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Manchester City
Number8
Youth career
1995–1997Pennes Mirabeau
1997–2004Marseille
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
2004–2008Marseille121(11)
2008–2011Arsenal86(18)
2011–Manchester City92(14)
National team
2002–2003France U1616(8)
2003–2004France U1716(6)
2004–2005France U184(0)
2005–2006France U1910(5)
2006–2007France U214(0)
2007–2014France41(5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12 May 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 September 2013
 
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Samir Nasri
Samir Nasri Euro 2012 v2.jpg
Nasri with France at UEFA Euro 2012
Personal information
Full nameSamir Nasri[1]
Date of birth(1987-06-26) 26 June 1987 (age 27)[1]
Place of birthMarseille, France
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing positionAttacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Manchester City
Number8
Youth career
1995–1997Pennes Mirabeau
1997–2004Marseille
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
2004–2008Marseille121(11)
2008–2011Arsenal86(18)
2011–Manchester City92(14)
National team
2002–2003France U1616(8)
2003–2004France U1716(6)
2004–2005France U184(0)
2005–2006France U1910(5)
2006–2007France U214(0)
2007–2014France41(5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12 May 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 September 2013

Samir Nasri (born 26 June 1987) is a French professional footballer who plays for English club Manchester City and the France national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and a winger, although he has also been deployed in central midfield. Nasri is known for his technical ability, creativity, pace, and ability to read the game.[3][4] Of Algerian heritage, he is described as a player whose "vision and imagination make him an unpredictable opponent".[5] His playing style, ability, and cultural background have drawn comparisons to French legend Zinedine Zidane.[6][7]

Nasri began his football career playing for local youth clubs in his hometown of Marseille. At the age of nine, he joined professional club Olympique de Marseille and spent the next seven years developing in the club's youth academy at La Commanderie, the club's training center. In the 2004–05 season, Nasri made his professional debut in September 2004 at the age of 17 against Sochaux. In the following season, he became a regular starter in the team and also participated in European competition for the first time after playing in the 2005–06 edition of the UEFA Cup. In the 2006–07 campaign, Nasri won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award and was also named to the Team of the Year. He finished his career with Marseille amassing over 160 appearances. He played in the teams that reached back-to-back Coupe de France finals in 2006 and 2007.

In June 2008, Nasri joined Premier League club Arsenal agreeing to a four-year contract. He reached prominence with the team in his third season winning the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Fans' Player of the Month award on three occasions and being named to the association's Team of the Year. In December 2010, he was named the French Player of the Year for his performances during the calendar year.[8] In August 2011, after three seasons with Arsenal, Nasri joined Manchester City on a four-year contract. In his first season with the club, he won his first major honour as a player as the club won the 2011–12 edition of the Premier League.

Nasri is a former French youth international and has represented his nation at every level for which he was eligible. Prior to playing for the senior team, he played on the under-17 team that won the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship. Nasri made his senior international debut in March 2007 in a friendly match against Austria. Two months later, he scored his first senior international goal in a 1–0 UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying win over Georgia. Nasri has represented France at two major international tournaments: UEFA Euro 2008 and UEFA Euro 2012.

Personal life

Nasri was born in Septèmes-les-Vallons, a northern suburb of Marseille, to French nationals of Algerian descent.[9][10] His mother, Ouassila Ben Saïd, and father, Abdelhafid Nasri, were both born in France; his father being born and raised in Marseille, while his mother being from nearby Salon-de-Provence.[10][11] Nasri's grandparents emigrated to France from Algeria.[12] His mother is a housewife and his father previously worked as a bus driver before becoming his son's personal manager. At the start of his football career, Nasri initially played under his mother's surname, Ben Saïd, before switching to Nasri, his father's surname, following his selection to the France under-16 team.[13] He is the eldest of four children and is a non-practising Muslim.[14] Nasri has a younger sister named Sonia and twin brothers named Walid and Malik.[10] All four were raised in La Gavotte Peyret. After joining Arsenal in England, Nasri settled in Hampstead, a district of North London.[15]

Club career

Early career

While growing up in La Gavotte Peyret, Nasri grew an attraction to the sport of football at a young age.[7] He regularly played the sport on the streets where he learned many of his skills. Upon noticing his prodigious talent, his parents signed him up to play with the local club in his hometown. Nasri spent one year playing with the club in La Gavotte Peyret before moving to Pennes Mirabeau in nearby Mirabeau at the age of seven. While playing with Pennes, Nasri was discovered by Marseille scout Freddy Assolen who had been informed of the player's talent through local word of mouth.[10][16] After noticing Nasri's skill in person, Assolen recruited the player to travel with a group of other young players to Italy to participate in a youth tournament where they would play against the youth academies of Milan and Juventus. Nasri impressed at the tournament and Assolen was jokingly told by a Milan scout that "he (Nasri) stays here, you leave him".[10] After returning to France, Marseille officials organized a meeting with the player's father and the group agreed to allow Nasri insertion into the club's academy at the age of nine.

Marseille

"He could do everything with the ball: stepovers, dribbling, shooting with the right or the left. In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether he was left or right-footed."

Freddy Assolen, upon noticing Nasri's skill at the age of nine.[16]

Upon entering the Marseille youth academy, Nasri quickly impressed. Upon moving to Bastide, where the club's youth players reside, his style of play began to take shape. In 2007, Nasri admitted that the move to Bastide really helped his game stating, "That’s where I really started to progress. Training was different and the facilities are beautiful, all of which helps you work well."[16] As a result of his quick progression, Nasri was an integral part of every youth team he was a part of winning several trophies, such as the Championnat de Provence, Coupe de Provence, and the Ligue de la Méditerranée. After spending most of the 2003–04 season playing with the club's under-18 team, for the latter part of the season, the now 16-year old Nasri was promoted to the club's reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur, the fourth division of French football. He appeared primarily as a substitute in a few matches during the campaign as the reserve team failed to rebound from its bad start to the season, which resulted in a 16th place finish and relegation to the Championnat de France amateur 2.[17]

Debut season

Ahead of the 2004–05 season, several clubs were reported to be interested in signing Nasri, most notably English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Newcastle United.[18] In an effort to decrease the speculation, Nasri was offered a three-year professional contract by Marseille officials led by president Pape Diouf and manager José Anigo. On 13 August 2004, Nasri agreed to the contract. Marseille officials had been eager to sign Nasri to a contract in an attempt to not undergo a situation similar to the departure of Mathieu Flamini, in which the player departed the club without Marseille receiving any compensation.[19] As a result of his professional contract, Nasri was promoted to the senior team by Anigo and assigned the number 22 shirt. He began the season playing on the club's reserve team and appeared in four matches before earning a call up to the senior team in September 2004.[20] Nasri made his professional debut on 12 September in a 2–0 league defeat to Sochaux appearing as a substitute for Bruno Cheyrou.[21] On 17 October, he made his first professional start playing the entire match in a 1–1 draw with Saint-Étienne.[22] Nasri featured heavily within the team under Anigo and later Philippe Troussier. In the team's first match following the winter break, he scored his first professional goal in a 2–1 away victory over Lille.[23] Nasri finished his rookie campaign with 25 total appearances, one goal, and two assists.

2005–06 season

Nasri taking a corner during his time with Marseille.

The 2005–06 season saw Marseille boosted by the arrival of attackers Franck Ribéry and Djibril Cissé; the latter arriving after having a successful loan stint with the club the previous season. Nasri, who was now given a more prominent role within the team by new manager Jean Fernandez, formed impressive partnerships with the two along with lead striker Mamadou Niang.[16] He appeared in 49 total matches, which included appearances in both the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Nasri made his European debut on 16 July 2005 in the first round of the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup against Swiss club BSC Young Boys. Marseille won the first leg 3–2. In the second leg, Nasri scored his first European goal in a 2–1 win. Marseille ultimately won the competition after beating Spanish outfit Deportivo de La Coruña 5–3 on aggregate. In the league, Nasri appeared in 30 matches, 25 as a starter. He scored his only league goal of the season on 29 April 2007 in a 4–2 win over Sochaux.[24] In the Coupe de France, Nasri appeared in five matches as Marseille reached the final of the competition where the club faced Le Classique rivals Paris Saint-Germain. Nasri appeared as a substitute in the match as Marseille were defeated 2–1. Following the season, Nasri signed a two-year contract extension with the club until 2009.[25]

2006–07 season

Nasri began the 2006–07 season playing under Albert Emon, his fourth different manager in three years. Despite this, Marseille's now heightened popularity saw increased speculation from writers and supporters that the club would finally win its first league title since the 1991–92 season. Nasri began the season on a quick note scoring the second goal in the team's 3–1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in September 2006.[26] On 29 April 2007, Nasri scored a goal in Marseille's 4–2 hammering of Sochaux.[27] Marseille were due to face the same club in the 2007 Coupe de France Final just days later and were, subsequently, heavy favorites as a result of the team's two-goal victory in the previous match. However, Sochaux recorded an upset victory defeating Marseille 5–4 on penalties after the match ended 2–2 following extra time. On the final match day of the season, Nasri converted the only goal in a 1–0 win over Sedan.[28] The victory secured 2nd place for Marseille and was the club's best finish since finishing runner-up to Bordeaux in the 1998–99 season. Nasri finished the season with a career-high 50 appearances, 37 of them in the league. For his efforts, he was awarded the UNFP Young Player of the Year award and named to the Team of the Year.[29] Nasri was also voted the Club Player of the Year by supporters, receiving 62% of the votes ahead of the likes of Ribéry and Niang.[29]

2007–08 season

Nasri with Marseille in 2008.

Similar to his previous three years at Marseille, Nasri began the new season under new management as the club was now being led by the Belgian Eric Gerets. Due to the departure of Ribéry to Bayern Munich, Gerets installed Nasri as the focal point of the attack and he responding by having his best season at the club. He appeared in 42 total matches scoring a career-high six goals and also assisting on a career-high 15 goals. Nasri formed partnerships in the midfield with winger Mathieu Valbuena and midfielders Lorik Cana and Benoît Cheyrou as Marseille boasted the third-best attack in the league behind champions Lyon and Bordeaux, who finished 1st and 2nd in the league, respectively. Nasri, initially, struggled during the infancy of the campaign due to dealing with the effects of a severely sprained ankle suffered in the pre-season.[30] He failed to score a goal or provide an assist in the team's first eight league matches. On 24 November 2007, he assisted on two goals in a 2–0 victory over Metz.[31] Nasri closed out the fall season by assisting on the equalizing goal in a 2–2 draw with Bordeaux and making the final pass on the game-winning goal against Le Mans.[32][33]

Following the winter break, Nasri's goal-scoring began to take form. In late January, he scored goals in back-to-back matches against Nancy and Caen.[34][35] In European competition, Nasri participated in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in his career, however he failed to make an impact in the four group stage matches he appeared in. He missed the club's upset victory over Liverpool at Anfield due to dealing with a bout of meningitis.[36][37][38][39] Marseille ultimately finished the group in third place, which resulted in the team qualifying for the Round of 32 of the UEFA Cup. The club was defeated in the Round of 16 by Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg despite being up 3–1 heading into the second leg. Of those three goals Marseille scored in the first leg, Nasri assisted on two of them. On 16 March 2008, Nasri scored a goal in a 3–3 draw with Lens.[40] A month later, he scored the game-winning goal in a 2–1 victory over Metz.[41] In his final match with Marseille against Strasbourg, Nasri scored a goal and assisted on another in a 4–3 victory.[42] Marseille finished the league campaign in 3rd place, which resulted in the club qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive season. On 8 May 2008, with all the transfer speculation surrounding the player, Nasri surprised many by signing a three-year contract extension with the club until 2012.[43]

Arsenal

2008–09 season

"Samir is a student of football – he lives for the game. He loves training and watches game after game on TV. He uses things he has seen to help correct mistakes in his own game. When you genuinely love football this is what makes the difference."

Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi on Nasri.[44]

A week later, despite signing a contract extension with Marseille, Nasri was linked with a move to Premier League club Arsenal. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger had been tracking Nasri since watching him play at the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship.[44] It was later revealed that the contract extension Nasri signed with Marseille was simply protocol to allow Marseille to get a higher transfer fee for the player. The Bouches-du-Rhône-based club was seeking £14 million for the young midfielder.[45] Ahead of UEFA Euro 2008, both Nasri's agent and Wenger admitted that offers were made for the player and that a move to the English club was imminent.[46][47] The deal was ultimately concluded following the competition on 11 July 2008 with Nasri agreeing to a four-year contract.[48] The transfer fee was undisclosed, but has been purported to be in the region of £12 million.[49] Upon arriving to the club, Nasri admitted that Wenger was one of the primary reasons for him joining the club stating "The fact that Arsène Wenger gives great opportunities to young players is very important for me. Arsène has a great reputation and he is one of the best managers in the world".[29]

Nasri preparing to take a corner kick for Arsenal

Nasri was given the number 8 shirt and made his club debut on 30 July 2008 in a friendly match against German club VfB Stuttgart in a 3–1 win.[50][51] He made his Premier League debut in the team's first game of the season on 16 August 2008 against West Bromwich Albion. In the match, Nasri scored his first league goal scoring with a close range effort, after four minutes in a 1–0 victory.[52] As a result of his debut goal, he became the 83rd player in Premier League history to score on his league debut and the 22nd Arsenal player.[53] On 27 August, Nasri scored his second goal for the club in the team's 2008–09 UEFA Champions League third round qualifying second leg tie against Dutch club Twente.[54] Arsenal won the match 4–0 and the tie 6–0 on aggregate.[55] After dealing with injuries for the most of September, Nasri return to form in October scoring his third goal of the season in a 3–1 win over Everton.[56] On 8 November, Nasri scored both of Arsenal's goals in a 2–1 win over Manchester United.[57][58]

Following his performance against Manchester United, Nasri struggled to make an impact with the team statistics-wise failing to score a goal or provide an assist in the team's next four matches. On 21 December, he assisted on the opening goal scored by Robin van Persie in the team's 1–1 draw with Liverpool.[59] Nasri returned to his scoring form in the new year. On 17 January 2009, he scored the second goal in the club's 3–1 win over Hull City at the KC Stadium.[60] It took Nasri another two months to score another goal, which came in Arsenal's 3–1 away win against Newcastle United.[61] He finished his first campaign at Arsenal appearing in 44 matches, scoring seven goals, and providing five assists.

2009–10 season

On 21 July 2009, while participating in a training match during pre-season with Arsenal in Bad Waltersdorf, Nasri suffered a broken leg. The injury required two to three months of rest and, as a result, Nasri missed the opening of the 2009–10 Premier League season.[62] He made his debut late in the campaign on 25 October 2009 in a Football League Cup tie against Liverpool. Nasri played the entire match in a 2–1 win.[63] On 4 November, he scored his first goal of the season in the team's Champions League group stage match against Dutch outfit AZ.[64] Three weeks later, Nasri converted another Champions League goal, this time against Belgium club Standard Liège in a 2–0 win.[65] He featured heavily with the team during the winter months and he ended the 2009 calendar year by scoring a goal and providing an assist 4–1 win over Portsmouth away at Fratton Park.[66]

Nasri taking a corner kick for Arsenal.

After going nearly two months without scoring a goal, Nasri marked his goal-scoring return in emphatic fashion in the team's 5–0 second leg victory over Portuguese club Porto in the Round of 16 of the Champions League knockout stage. The goal, described by English newspaper The Guardian columnist David Lacey as "reminiscent of a lost art in British football", showcased Nasri's dribbling, as well as his individuality.[67] Upon receiving the ball on the right wing from midfielder Abou Diaby, Nasri dribbled through and past three Porto players in a small area of space before bringing the ball past wingback Álvaro Pereira and driving it across the goalkeeper, sending the ball in off the far post. Nasri goal was subsequently compared by the English media to similar goals that occurred in the country.[68][69][70] Three weeks later, after appearing as a substitute in the second half, Nasri scored the opening goal against Birmingham City. Birmingham later equalized through a late goal from Kevin Phillips. The draw ended a string of seven consecutive league victories for Arsenal and Wenger admitted that the draw "was a big blow for our chances (of winning the league)".[71] In the team's final seven league matches, Nasri failed to contribute goals to the team, but did assisted on goals in a 3–2 loss to Wigan and a 4–0 home win over Fulham.[72][73] Arsenal ultimately finished the campaign in 3rd place. Nasri concluded his second season at Arsenal appearing 34 games scoring five goals and issuing the same amount of assists.

Breakthrough season

Nasri, in the 2010–11 season, delivering a cross.

Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Nasri admitted that he was determined to re-capture his form that resulted in Arsenal signing him two years prior. He also admitted that he did not take missing out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup well stating "When I discovered that I wasn't part of the squad for the World Cup, I got a big slap in the face."[74] However, after speaking to Wenger, who informed him that he should use the non-callup as motivation, he was reassured.[75] Nasri started the campaign well. He was named in Arsenal's starting line-up to play against Liverpool for the first match of the season on 15 August 2010. Nasri played the entire match in a 1–1 draw.[76] After the match, Arsenal confirmed that Nasri had suffered a knee injury that would keep him out for a month.[77] However, the player returned to the team after just three matches helping Arsenal defeat Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga 6–0 in the Champions League on his return.[78] On 21 September, Nasri scored a double in the club's 4–1 extra time victory over North London derby rivals Tottenham Hotspur.[79] Both goals were converted from the penalty spot. Fours days later, Nasri scored another double in a 3–2 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion.[80]

Nasri during the 2010–11 season

Nasri continued his fine form as season wore on. In the club's Champions League group stage tie against Serbian club FK Partizan, he assisted on a Sébastien Squillaci goal in the team's 3–1 victory.[81] In October 2010, Nasri went on a streak, in which he scored goals in three straight matches. He started the streak by converting a penalty in a 2–1 win over Birmingham City.[82] In the club's following match against Ukrainian competitors Shakhtar Donetsk, Nasri scored on a left-footed volley in a 5–1 victory.[83] He also assisted on a goal in the match. Against Manchester City five days later, he scored the first goal and set up the third in a 3–0 victory.[84] As a result of his performances in October 2010, Nasri was named the PFA Fans' Player of the Month.[85] In November, Nasri was on the score-sheet again netting the opener in a 3–2 defeat to Tottenham.[86] A week later, he scored a volley in a 4–2 win over Aston Villa.[87]

On 4 December, Nasri scored two goals against Fulham to give Arsenal a 2–1 win. The victory placed Arsenal at the top of the league table.[88] The two goals were Nasri's seventh and eighth goals, respectively, in the league and his tenth and 11th overall. Just four days later, Nasri scored a goal in Arsenal's vital last group game against Partizan. Arsenal won the match 3–1.[89] On 13 December, for his performances during the 2010 calendar year, Nasri was named the France Football French Player of the Year beating out Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda and Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. He is the first Arsenal player to achieve the honour since Thierry Henry in 2006.[8] Nasri was also rewarded domestically for his performances in December winning the Fans' Player of the Month for the second time in the season and, also, capturing the club's monthly award.[90] He won the award for the second consecutive month in January.[91][92]

Nasri scored his 13th goal of the season in the 3–0 win against Birmingham City on New Year's Day 2011.[93] In the FA Cup, Nasri scored his first-ever goal in the competition in a 3–1 win over Leeds United in the third round.[94] On 30 January 2011, Nasri was forced to leave the team's fourth round FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town due to a hamstring injury.[95] He, subsequently, missed two weeks and returned to the team ahead of its Champions League knockout round tie with Spanish champions Barcelona. In the first leg, Nasri assisted on the game-winning goal scored by Andrei Arshavin. Arsenal won the match 2–1, but loss the tie 4–3 on aggregate after suffering a 3–1 defeat at the Nou Camp in the second leg.[96][97] On 8 April, Nasri was nominated for both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.[98] He lost out on both awards to Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale and teammate Jack Wilshere, respectively, but was given consolation with an appearance on the association's Team of the Year.

Manchester City

Nasri (left) and Sergio Agüero parade the Premier League trophy, May 2012.

On 24 August 2011, it was confirmed that Nasri had joined Premier League club Manchester City.[99] The transfer fee was priced in the region of £25 million and the player signed a four-year contract.[100][101]

2011–12

Nasri made his club debut on 28 August in a league fixture away to Tottenham Hotspur. In the match, he assisted on three goals as Manchester City cruised to a 5–1 win.[102] In the team's next match following the September international break, Nasri assisted on one of Sergio Agüero's three goals in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic. On 1 October, he scored his first goal for the club netting the third goal in a 4–0 victory.[103] Nasri also assisted on two goals in the match.[104] After nearly two months without a league goal, on 3 December, Nasri scored his second goal for Manchester City converting a free kick in a 5–1 win against Norwich City.[105] In the following month, Nasri scored his third goal for the club in a 3–2 win against Tottenham Hotspur.[106] On 21 March, he scored the game-winning goal in a 2–1 win over Chelsea after receiving a through ball from teammate Carlos Tévez.[107] On 22 April, he scored in a 2–0 away win against Wolverhampton Wanderers.[108] On 13 May 2012, Nasri won his first Premier League trophy, as Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions for the 2011–12 season after beating Queens Park Rangers 3–2.[109]

Samir Nasri during a friendly game between Manchester City and Chelsea F.C. at the Busch Stadium in 2013

2012–13

At the start of the 2012–13 season, Nasri switched his squad number from 19 to 8. On 12 August, Nasri scored and assisted a goal in the 2012 Community Shield, a 3–2 win against FA Cup winners Chelsea.[110] A week later on the opening day of the 2012–13 Premier League season he scored and assisted again in a 3–2 win, this time against newly promoted Southampton.[111] He then scored against Ajax in a 3–1 loss in the UEFA Champions League. In December 2012, Nasri was criticised for not blocking Robin van Persie's winning goal in the Manchester Derby.[112][113]

In March 2013, after a man of the match performance in a 4–0 win against Newcastle United, City manager Roberto Mancini said he "would like to give [Nasri] a punch" due to his inconsistent form.[114] On 14 April, Nasri scored the opening goal as City defeated Chelsea 2–1 in the FA Cup semi-final.[115]

2013–14

Narsi scored his first goal of the 2013–14 season in the game against Manchester United in a 4–1 win.[116] On 5 November, Nasri provided assists for goals by Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo as City cruised by CSKA Moscow 5-2 to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in club history.[117] On 1 December, Nasri scored twice in a 3–0 win over Swansea City.[118]

On 2 March 2014, Nasri scored the second goal as Manchester City defeated Sunderland 3–1 to win the 2014 Football League Cup Final.[119] For his performance in the final, Nasri received the Alan Hardaker Trophy, given to the Man of the Match.[120]

In a crucial league game away to Everton on 3 May, Nasri provided the assist for Edin Džeko's game-winning goal as CIty came from behind to win 3—2 and go top of the table with two games remaining.[121] On 11 May, Nasri scored Manchester City's opening goal in a 2—0 defeat of West Ham United as the club won the 2013–14 Premier League title.[122]

2014–15

Nasri taking a corner-kick during the 2014 FA Community Shield against Arsenal.

On 10 July 2014, Nasri signed a new five-year contract deal with Manchester City, which will keep him at the club until 2019.[123]

International career

Youth

Nasri has earned caps with all of France's youth teams for which he was eligible. He is a member of the group, commonly known as the Génération 1987, that produced current internationals Hatem Ben Arfa, Karim Benzema, and Jérémy Menez, alongside himself.[44][124] With the under-16 team, Nasri made 16 appearances scoring eight goals. Of the four players, Nasri was the first player to become a regular starter in the team under coach François Blaquart and made his debut in the team's opening match of the campaign against Spain. France won the match 3–0.[125] Nasri scored his first goal for the team on 29 October in its first group stage match against Sweden at the Tournio du Val-de-Marne.[126] On 11 December, Nasri scored the opening goal in the team's 6–1 exhibition thrashing of Greece.[127] At the 2003 Aegean Cup in Turkey, he scored two goals in four matches as France finished the competition in third place. Nasri scored in the team's second group stage match against Israel, a 3–1 win.[128] In the next group stage match, he scored a goal in 5–0 win over the Ukraine.[129] In the third place match against Belgium, Nasri assisted on a goal scored by Ben Arfa.[130] At the Tournio de Montaigu, Nasri scored his only goal in the team's 8–0 win over Gabon in the team's opening group match.[131] France finished the competition runner-up to Italy who defeated France 5–1 in the final match.[132]

At under-17 level, Nasri, Menez, and Ben Arfa were joined by Karim Benzema and tasked with the goal of winning the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship on home soil. Nasri made his debut with the team in the opening match of the season against Sweden netting a goal in a 5–2 victory.[133] In the team's second straight yearly appearance at the Tournio du Val-de-Marne, Nasri scored his lone goal in the competition against the United States in a 2–0 win as France were declared champions without conceding a goal.[134] At the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship, Nasri contributed to the team by scoring the equalizing goal against Portugal in the competition's semi-finals. France went on to win the match 3–1 to earn a place in the final.[135] In the final match, France faced Spain. In the match, Nasri scored the game-winning goal just a minute from time to give France its first-ever title in the competition.[136] In total with the under-17s, he made 16 appearances and scored six goals. Due to increased playing time at his parent club Marseille, Nasri stint with the under-18 team was uneventful appearing in only four matches.

The foursome of Nasri, Ben Arfa, Benzema, and Menez returned to international play together for under-19 duty. The four were joined by Issiar Dia, Blaise Matuidi, and Serge Gakpé with the objective of winning the 2006 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. The team opened the campaign with two friendly matches against Norway. Over the course of the two matches, Nasri scored two goals: one in a 4–0 win and another in a 5–0 victory.[137][138] In the first round of qualification for the tournament, Nasri assisted on two goals in the team's 3–1 win over Wales.[139][140] In the team's next group stage match against San Marino, he scored the third goal in a 3–0 victory.[141][142] In the final group match against Austria, Nasri scored the opening goal and provided the assist on a Benzema goal in a 2–0 win.[143][144] In the final round of qualification, Nasri went scoreless. However, despite finishing the round undefeated, France were eliminated after being beaten on points by Scotland. Nasri earned his first call up to the under-21 team under coach René Girard in the team's first match following the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship against Belgium. He started the match and was replaced at half-time by Florent Sinama Pongolle.[145] He featured in qualification matches for the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship and appeared as a substitute in both legs of the team's surprising defeat to Israel in the qualifying playoffs.[146][147] Despite still being eligible to represent the team until 2009, his appearance in the second leg defeat to Israel was Nasri's last with the team.

Senior

On 15 March 2007, Nasri was called up to the senior team for the first time by coach Raymond Domenech for UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against Lithuania and a friendly against Austria.[148] Nasri said he was "very happy and very proud" to be called into the national team, stating that the call-up was all the more satisfying as the game was an important European championship qualifier.[149] He appeared on the bench in the match against Lithuania, but failed to make an appearance. Nasri made his international debut on 28 March against Austria at the age of 19. He started the match and was involved with the only goal, delivering the free kick from which Karim Benzema scored.[149] Nasri returned to the team in June for matches and, on 6 June, scored his first international goal in a 1–0 Euro qualifying win over Georgia.[150] On 16 November, Nasri scored his second international goal in a friendly match against Morocco.[151] As a result of his performances domestically and with the national team, he was named to the 23-man squad to participate in UEFA Euro 2008. Nasri made his debut in the tournament on 9 June 2008 in the team's opening group stage match against Romania appearing as a substitute.[152] He did not appear in the team's 4–1 loss to the Netherlands, but did appear in the team's final group stage match against Italy. Nasri appeared as a substitute for the injured Franck Ribéry in the tenth minute. Following defender's Éric Abidal's red card in the 24th minute, Nasri was taken out of the match in order for defender Jean-Alain Boumsong to take Abidal's spot in the lineup.[153]

"When I started out in the French national side, Henry had been out with a back injury and I had been sitting in a place on the coach which, on his return, turned out to be where he sat. As soon as I discovered that I got up and let him sit down. Many people were looking for excuses because we had done badly in the Euros but I certainly don't think you can blame that on the fact that I sat in Thierry Henry's seat."

Nasri on the issue brought up by Gallas.[154]

In November 2008, Nasri was one of a group of young players who were accused of being insolent during the team's campaign at the European Championship. The accusation came from domestic teammate William Gallas, who made the charge in his autobiography. Though not explicitly named in the book, Nasri was widely identified as the player in question.[155][156][157] As an example of Nasri's disrespectful attitude Gallas cited an incident in which the young player sat in Thierry Henry's seat on the team bus and refused to move, which, according to Gallas, undermined the striker's seniority. The incident ultimately led to a verbal exchange between Nasri and Gallas during a training session.[7] In response, Nasri played down the incident stating that Gallas was overreacting to a problem that did not exist.[7] In 2010, after failing to make the World Cup squad, he opened up about the situation stating that during Gallas' final year at Arsenal, he was one of "four or five" Arsenal players who did not speak to the defender.[158] The feud culminated on 20 November 2010 when Nasri lived up to a pledge that he would not shake the hand of Gallas, who was now playing for Tottenham, during the pre-match build-up.[159][160]

Nasri dribbles past a Sweden defender at UEFA Euro 2012.

In the 2008–09 season, Nasri appeared in only three matches with the national team. After playing against Lithuania on 28 March 2009, the midfielder went uncapped for the almost a year and a half. During the 2009–10 season, Nasri grew weary of his chances of appearing with the team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[161] In the end, he did not appear with the team, failing to make the 23-man squad or even the preliminary squad.[162] Nasri admitted that he took the non-call up hard, recalling "Not being one of those 23 names, it was difficult." The player also viewed the non-invite from a positive perspective stating "But maybe it was for the best in the end, and not just because France had a horrible World Cup. It helped me as a person. I told myself I need to work harder, to make sure I don’t miss the next one."[7]

Nasri returned to the national team under the reign of new coach Laurent Blanc for the team's friendly against Norway on 11 August 2010.[163] He missed the September call ups due to injury before returning to the team in October for UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Romania and Luxembourg. On 25 March 2011, Nasri captained the national team for the first time in its 2–0 Euro qualification win over Luxembourg. He provided the assist on the opening goal scored by Philippe Mexès.[164] In the team's final Euro qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nasri scored the equalizing goal, converting a penalty in a 1–1 draw. The point gained from the stalemate secured a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying spot for France.[165] After appearing regularly in qualifying for UEFA Euro 2012, on 29 May 2012, Nasri was named to the squad to participate in the competition.[166] In the team's opening group stage match against England, he scored the equalizing goal in a 1–1 draw.[167]

Nasri and Scott Parker at Euro 2012

After France lost to Spain in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2012, Nasri subjected a reporter to what was described as a "foul-mouthed tirade" when asked for his views on the match.[168] For that and other misdemeanours, the French Football Federation imposed a three-match international ban.[169] On May 13, 2014, manager Didier Deschamps revealed the 23-man squad that is going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup; Nasri was again not included.[170]

On 9 August 2014, Nasri confirmed his decision to retire from international football aged just 27.[171]

Style of play

Nasri attempting a shot in a 2008 UEFA Cup match with Marseille against Spartak Moscow.

In his early years at Marseille, Nasri was deployed in several positions, most notably as a deep-lying midfielder and a wide midfielder primarily on the right side as he was deemed too small to play in the middle of the park.[172] After two years of developing his physical traits, in the 2006–07 season, manager Albert Emon inserted Nasri into the playmaker role, where his vision, technical skill, and ability to read and understand the game suited him.[172] Since that season, Nasri has been primarily deployed in the position or as a central attacking midfielder at both club and international level.[172] The player has personally admitted that playing centrally is his preference.[161][173][174] However, as a result of his versatility, Nasri can also function on the wing and spent the majority of his career at Arsenal occupying the role in the team's 4–3–3 formation.[175][176] His close control with the ball, speed, dribbling, crossing, and ability to use both feet suits the position well, which has resulted in former manager Arsène Wenger deploying Nasri in the role during the player's four-year stay at the club. Nasri often featured centrally for Arsenal in the absence of former club captain Cesc Fàbregas.

In 2009, in order to accommodate the arrival of Russian attacker Andrei Arshavin, it was recommended by both Wenger and former national team coach Raymond Domenech that Nasri revert to his role as a deep-lying midfielder so the player could showcase his underrated defensive abilities.[177] Nasri is also an underrated direct free kick and penalty kick taker. The player had previously developed a superstition with regards to taking spot kicks, but conquered the issue after successfully converting two penalties in the team's Carling Cup victory over Tottenham in 2010.[178] Wenger describes Nasri as a "young, quick and technically outstanding player".[49] He is described in a similar fashion by club scout Gilles Grimandi who states that Nasri is "a fantastic athlete, he's quick, flexible and good with his feet".[44] Nasri's playing style, ability, and cultural background have drawn comparisons to French legend Zinedine Zidane.[6] After joining Arsenal and excelling on the wing, the English media began comparing him to former club player and compatriot Robert Pirès.[179] Nasri has often attempted to disassociate himself from the two players, particularly the former player stating "There's only one Zidane, just as there was only one Platini".[180]

Career statistics

Club

As of match played 11 May 2014.[181][182][183][184]
ClubSeasonLeagueCup[185]EuropeTotal
AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Marseille2004–052411000251
2005–0630150141492
2006–073737060503
2007–083064080426
Total1211117028116612
Arsenal2008–0929650101447
2009–102622063345
2010–11301083824615
2011–1210000010
Total861815324612527
Manchester City2011–123155190456
2012–132723261385
2013–1434753714611
Total921413622212922
Career Total2994245974942061

International

As of 31 March 2014.[186]
National teamSeasonAppsGoals
France2006–0731
2007–0891
2008–0930
2009–1000
2010–1170
2011–12132
2012–1300
2013–1461
Total415

International goals

#DateVenueOpponentScoreResultCompetition
1
6 June 2007Stade de l'Abbé Deschamps, Auxerre, France Georgia
1–0
1–0
UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying
2
16 November 2007Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France Morocco
2–1
2–2
Friendly
3
11 October 2011Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France Bosnia-Herzegovina
1–1
1–1
UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying
4
11 June 2012Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine England
1–1
1–1
UEFA Euro 2012
5
10 September 2013Central Stadium, Gomel, Belarus Belarus
2–3
2–4
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
Correct as of 10 September 2013

Honours

Club

Marseille
Manchester City

International

France

Individual

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External links