Samir Nasri left Arsenal for Manchester City in the summer of 2011 with ambitions of winning trophies and stepping up to become a world class player. Nasri was successful in winning the league title with the club last season, but in terms of his own contribution, he has arguably not lived up to expectations. With City slipping 12 points behind United, it is worth assessing the quality of their personnel and Nasri has featured 17 times in the Premier League so far. But is he good enough?
|Mins per chance created
|Mins per loss of possession
|Mins per possession won
|Mins per goal
I have compared Nasri to probably the three best players in his position. It is clear from observing here that Nasri is very assured in possession, losing the ball least and having the best pass accuracy out of his rivals. This is probably the only area where he comes out on top. Mata and Silva make the most chances, whilst Nasri has the least number of goals. With regards to goals, Mata is in a class of his own with a 31% conversion rate and a goal every 178 minute. His 9 assists also put him out ahead of the rest with him arguably the league’s most in form player this season, at least in the role of the number 10.
The problem for Nasri is how unproductive he has been, contributing to just four goals (assists plus goals) compared to Mata who has had a hand in 19 goals and Cazorla who has been involved in 15. His lack of goals is an issue and he doesn’t create enough good chance to play in the role that he does. Nasri is thus probably the worst player out of those selected here. Whilst he is the best at keeping the ball, he is not doing enough to contribute to Manchester City goals and as such isn’t really good enough for the side. Fellow play-maker Silva hasn’t been at his best with regards to goals or assists but even he has been far more productive and despite that he creates chances more frequently and of course scores more regularly.
What role does Nasri play in?
Nasri isn’t a brilliant individual but he is not helped by the system he plays in. He is arguably not good enough to pick up the creative slack of Silva isn’t firing. Nasri is often used as one of the three attacking midfielders, usually from the left, in the 4-2-3-1 formation utilized by Mancini. Despite usually starting wide he often ends up drifting in field, as Silva does also, creating an over-crowding in the middle of the park. Further to this, the lack of width caused by himself and Silva coming inside leads to the full-backs having to stretch the play and attack aggressively on the over-lap. With Nasri not creating enough or scoring enough, his presence inside hasn’t been very productive, despite the fact he keeps the ball effectively.
Nasri (8) is in a very central position, despite starting from a wide position with Silva wedged underneath 16 and 32. The overcrowding leads to a lack of ideas and Nasri is not anywhere near as good as Silva at creating and making things happen. Really, what City need is to play one of the two players and then have a wide option to keep the game stretched. This might have happened had the club signed Eden Hazard, who currently plays from the left for Chelsea. Failure to land Hazard meant that the club signed Scott Sinclair, who with respect doesn’t look good enough for a side like City.
When City signed Nasri they got a good player, but by no means a great player. Nasri’s role would probably be better as a squad player at best, with him lacking the creative edge or goal scoring threat required to justify a regular place in the starting line-up. A lack of alternatives, partly driven by an unsuccessful transfer window, has led to him having a prominent role in the side. His one goal is just not good enough and despite defensive problems, a lack of goals has been the difference between City and United. United have scored 62 goals compared to just 48 for City this season. Obviously the strikers deserve a degree of the blame but the support players such as Nasri have not done a good enough job. If Hazard had been signed then Nasri would have been reduced to a much lesser role for the club. In truth, City may need an upgrade on Nasri if they wish to become a force in English and European football.