Samir Nasri jumped at the chance to create history at Manchester City
MANCHESTER //The accusation casually flung at the modern-day player is that his actions are inspired by avarice. Everything else, from traditions to trophies, from footballing philosophies to friendships, is a secondary consideration.
The message from Samir Nasri is altogether different. History, not money, prompted his move to Manchester City. It is a point the Frenchman is keen to stress.
"Manchester City did not offer me three times what I was on at Arsenal because Arsenal offered me a [contract] extension as well," he said. "That was not what happened. Money doesn't buy happiness. It is not everything."
Nasri's definition of everything incorporates the sort of success he never enjoyed in London. The Etihad Stadium, he believes, will bring a tangible reward for his talents that the Emirates never did.
"Titles," added the midfielder, whose individual excellence earned a place on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award last season.
"I am 24, everyone says I am a good player and I play at a high level with Arsenal, but I have never won anything.
"This year one of the best players of Arsenal left as well, Cesc Fabregas, and no one replaced him.
"I join a team with [Sergio] Aguero, [David] Silva, [Carlos] Tevez and [Vincent] Kompany. I am confident of winning."
Winning would have a novelty factor for both new recruit and the club. Nasri spurned Manchester United's advances in part because of the challenge their rivals face.
"I want to be part of history," he explained. "At Manchester City, they have not won a title for 40 years. It's a big achievement if we can do it. Manchester United win the title every three years and I prefer to be part of history."
It was a point that had particular resonance with his new manager. Roberto Mancini was part of the first, and so far only, Sampdoria side to win Serie A and helped Lazio to only their second Scudetto.
"He wants to do is make history for this club," he said. "When I played football, I wanted to do the history of my club, like Sampdoria, like Lazio."
Winning with a club like Real Madrid or Barcelona is, he argued, still special but lacks the historic significance. The club Nasri has left possess an enviable past, but he is less optimistic about their immediate future, citing Arsene Wenger's reluctance to spend sizeable fees on proven talents.
"When you are at a big club, you sometimes have to invest to bring in players to win," he said. "And before Arsenal brought in experienced players but since they moved to the Emirates Stadium [in 2006], the transfer policy is a little bit different.
"You have to deal with the young players. They have got quality and I think that in the future they can do something but at the moment they lost Cesc, the captain who was there for eight years."
It may be deemed a vote of no confidence in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson, Wenger's teenage additions. The only disappointment about his decision to depart came courtesy of a Champions League draw that pitted Nasri's two former clubs together.
"The only regret I had was I was at Arsenal and I wanted to play against Marseille and when I left Arsenal, they play against Marseille," he lamented.
That apart, he was a picture of contentment. "Everyone has really welcomed me: the players, the staff, the fans," he added. "I don't think it is difficult to settle in Manchester; the weather is the same as in London." At that point a smiling Mancini interjected "three or four degrees less".
Having finally secured the services of a player he first attempted to sign for Inter Milan five years ago, Mancini was in a light-hearted mood. He has assembled a squad with an abundance of attacking talents. Fitting them in is the problem.
"I think we can play with Nasri, Silva, Aguero, [Mario] Balotelli, Tevez and [Edin] Dzeko all in the same game," he joked.
More serious was the assertion that Nasri, though deployed among the three support strikers in Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 formation last season, occupies a deeper midfield role for his national team: the £25 million (Dh150m) man could spend some of his time in the company of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong.
Nasri's signing is a coup but not a shock - "at the moment every player wants to come to Manchester City," Mancini said - and, while there may be an outgoing or two, his summer business is concluded.
Now the serious work begins: making history.
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Published: August 27, 2011 04:00 AM