Originally published on my personal blog on July 3rd 2011.
“I’m leaving this club because I want to win trophies”. It’s perhaps acceptable for a footballer to use this kind of line if they are at a club who are clearly happy to be languishing in mid-table or below, not looking to spend money to improve with little ambition anywhere in the club – just accepting their position in the hierarchy of club football.
But for a player who was distinctly average for a fair portion of last season, who played for a team who challenged for the league title but, again, didn’t win it, to come out with this sentence, this clichéd excuse – well that’s lazy and, quite frankly, lame.
It’s quite a basic and already common reply to the excuse, but football clubs lose football matches because of the footballers that play. Yes, Arsenal need to invest, their manager is clearly reluctant to spend any sort of big money on players he doesn’t think fit into his system, regardless of how desperate the pleas from fans become for a new centre-back, a top-quality striker and, basically, a new spine for the team.
But the simple fact is – Samir Nasri isn’t winning football matches and, as a consequence, trophies at Arsenal because of the team, a team that he is a part of. If he wants to be a winner, he needs to show that in his performances. Nasri went missing in too many games last season. You want to win things, Samir? Then play better.
With Cesc Fabregas apparently set to move to hometown-more-than-a-club Barcelona, the opportunity is there for Nasri to prove that he is the winner that he claims to be, to really thank Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger for supporting him through some tough times in his career.
Nasri, it seems, doesn’t want to have the team built around him after Fabregas leaves; he’d prefer to slot straight into a side that can already win various honours – he’d rather be a part of a winning team rather than be the main protagonist who inspires a side to victory. Some would see this as the midfielder taking the easier option; others would see it as the Frenchman purely looking after his own career.
How many times have we seen players haul their respective teams to victory? Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United immediately springs to mind. United were labelled a ‘one-man-team’ but, with the Premier League trophy firmly in their hands, did it really matter?
There have been many more examples of players over the years, desperate to win honours or the equivalent, proving themselves to be heroes. Gerrard for Liverpool, for one. To some extent, Tevez at Manchester City, Henrik Larsson at Celtic, Andy Johnson at Crystal Palace, Roque Santa Cruz at Blackburn – these players carried their teams. They might not have all been battling for the league title, but they’ve all fought for their relative victories. They wanted to win.
You see, Nasri could be a hero at Arsenal. He could drive them towards their first Premier League title since 2004. He could be the conductor of the new Arsenal, a new generation that sees silverware come to The Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2005 – other than the Emirates Cup.
But he doesn’t want that, he wants the easier life and he wants the quick fix of glory. And, in order to leave with some dignity, he walks out of Arsenal, with his head held high, claiming that he wants to win trophies, with a line that always leads many to sympathise with glory-stricken, and force all Arsenal fans to question the ambition of the club.
If you want to win trophies, fine. But don’t leave a club that, despite having a rather lacklustre squad that missed vital players at key moments last season, finished fourth and were at one time very credible title challengers, questioning their ambition in the process.
Samir Nasri isn’t leaving Arsenal because he wants to win things, he could do that at Arsenal if he really wanted too – he’s leaving because it will possibly be easier to win things at another club, and he’ll earn more money in the process. And no one can blame him for making that choice. But a little bit of honesty, and a little less laziness in reasoning, really wouldn’t go amiss.