Wenger, as he does with most of his talented purchases, turned Nasri from a little-known player at Marseille to a superstar at Arsenal. The Frenchman plucked the France international in the summer of 2008 following four seasons at Marseille, and he was brought in to replace the successful pairing of Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini.
Apart from Hleb and Flamini, the Gunners lost their midfield spine in Gilberto Silva to Panathinaikos. However, they did have the hugely influential Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park. Together with Nasri, both formed a formidable partnership.
However, they were unable to translate their midfield domination into trophies with both players moving on in the summer of 2011. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out Fabregas would eventually leave the Gunners for Barcelona, but Nasri’s departure to Man City was sudden and acrimonious.
There were cries from a majority of Arsenal supporters accusing the 25-year-old for moving to City only for the money. He had, however, insisted that he left only because he felt he had a better chance of winning trophies with City, than with the Gunners.
His decision seems vindicated since he has helped City win the Premier League last season on goal difference, scoring 5 and assisting with 9 in 31 league appearances. They are still in the FA cup and could mathematically retain their trophy, even though Nasri has played a bit-part role this season. Whereas Arsenal have again failed to muster a significant challenge for the league title and are yet to win a trophy.
And Nasri has finally lifted the lid on what led to his Arsenal departure. According to Metro, Nasri said that Arsenal sold him for the money. He said, “Cesc [Fabregas] or me were supposed to leave. Arsene told me that if Cesc would leave, I would stay. But Kroenke could not ignore the transfer fee.”
He also insisted that money did not play a factor in his side of the move and also revealed his admiration for Wenger. He said, “Arsene Wenger is the greatest coach I have worked with. He is the one who understands me the most, he made me realise my potential. I am grateful to him for the role he played in my career. I only regret not having more discussions with him when I left.”
He added, “I do not have other regrets. I do not regret joining Manchester City. I want to play and perform, and my departure from Arsenal is purely for sporting reasons. When you compare Arsenal and City, it’s not the same. With City I’m playing in a better team, I won the title, and Arsenal fight to qualify for the Champions League. I didn’t leave for money.”