by Tony Attwood
Are there any tell-tale signs that a player is going to be one of those people with no sense of loyalty to his employer? A person who thinks contracts are worth nothing and who exploits any situation to his own advantage having taken all he can out of a situation?
I think perhaps there are, and Nasri is a case that points us in the right direction.
First and perhaps the most obviously, there is the issue of, “has he done this before?” That is to say, is this a player who has signed a contract and then treated it as a piece of waste paper?
Second who is his agent? Does he have an agent who is likely to encourage him to ignore contracts or reject any work that has been done by a club to encourage and help him, and just move away, discarding all those who have helped him along?
In Nasri’s case we can see the pattern
On the issue of his agent, it is his father, and I think we can find several instances where family members become agents, without any previous agent or indeed business experience, and who only act within the short-term-money focussed interest of the player. Nasri’s agent is his father, who before becoming Nasri’s agent was a bus driver.
Nasri’s attitude does not deny the fact that Nasri was a wonderful player, nor does it suggest that Gilles Grimandi was wrong to highlight his ability and mark him out as a potential player for Arsenal.
But all along the way there were signs – and they were recognised elsewhere early on, as when France deliberately turned their back on him for the 2010 World Cup.
Playing alongside Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere, Nasri was beyond doubt a central part in the team, but Nasri decided to leave for more money in August 2011. His departure not only robbed us of a great player, but when he chose to do it exactly when Cesc left as well, he through the club into turmoil.
Nasri was born 26 June 1987 and joined Olympique de Marseille aged nine turning pro aged 17.
But at Marseille there were warning signs about his attitude to loyalty and contracts. On 8 May 2008 Nasri signed a three-year contract extension with Marseille. A week later it was suggested that the contract extension was simply a trick by Marseille and Nasri’s father, conspiring together to get a higher transfer fee out of Arsenal for the player.
My own view, for what it is worth (which of course is nothing in the wider scheme of things) is that Arsenal should have pulled the plug on the deal, and walked away. The club can hardly complain about what happened latter, when they knew they were dealing with a man who would become part of such a conspiracy. True we would have been denied a great player for a while, but the notion of not dealing with unethical players and agents is one that I would welcome.
Nasri then said, after reneging on one contract and signing another, “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”.
The fact that Nasri continued to be a fine player is not in question. On 13 December 2010 he was named France Football French Player of the Year the first Arsenal player to achieve the honour since Thierry Henry in 2006.
On 24 August 2011, with just one year left on his contract and a clear indication from his father that Nasri would not re-sign for Arsenal it was confirmed that Nasri had joined Manchester City for £25 million – representing a £13m profit for Arsenal. So a good profit but a nasty taste in the mouth. Maybe I’m wrong, and it was worth it.
Over three seasons he played 124 games for Arsenal and scored 27 goals. After leaving he repeatedly criticised Arsenal fans for not supporting the team enough. Then in April 2013 he criticised Arsenal for “cashing in” on him just to build the coffers of the chairman (one of the most bizarre accusations ever).
In May 2013 he launched a virulent attack on Mancini, who had at that time just left the club. This was probably because on 23 February 2013 Mancini had criticised Nasri for “resting on his laurels”. Then on 16 May 2013 Nasri said he was sad to see Mancini go.
There’s tons more of this, but you get the hang of it.