Recently, talk of a deal moving Samir Nasri to City has been almost non-stop. An article has already been written on EPL Index by jeffares10 on Nasri leaving Arsenal. Every day it goes back and forth between rumors that it is a sure signing and people saying he will stay at the Emirates for at least this season. At this point, I have no idea how it will play out. Still, this article is for hypothetical purposes. Even if Nasri stays with Arsenal, it is an interesting exercise to look in to how he play in to the City lineup. What would Samir Nasri look like for the City side? Where would he fit in?
These are tough questions, especially with City’s recent signings. Against Swansea, City started out with 4 in the back, Barry, de Jong, and Toure in the middle, Johnson and Silva on the flanks, and Dzeko as a lone striker. Against Bolton, Dzeko played up top with Silva wide left and Aguero wide right. Nasri can play in the attacking midfield role like he did in the Liverpool game in week 2, or the winger role like he did much of last season. Barry, de Jong and Toure seem to have the midfield on lock. It would be tough for Nasri to play a significant amount of time in the attacking midfielder role over Toure. Mancini seems to like to switch up the midfield a lot, especially if we contrast their first two games. A better fit, in my opinion, would be for Nasri to play out wide. Here is a Guardian chalkboard of Nasri playing in the attacking midfielder role (vs. Liverpool 2011/2012 week 2) and in the wide left role (home vs. Chelsea 2010/2011).
While I love watching Samir Nasri play in attacking midfield, the best place for him to be at City would be wide left. He is obviously comfortable out wide, and it is a much better fit with MCFC. Below are some stats from Nasri’s past season.
While Samir Nasri’s passing numbers are overall very impressive (88% pass percentage and 57 chances created are both very good numbers), we can look at a more specific stat to better understand Nasri’s true attacking ability: limiting his numbers to the final third. A passing percentage of 82% in the final third in a single game is impressive. To do it over an entire season is truly remarkable.
Why is the final third statistic helpful? If you think about it, the final third is where players make penetrating passes that are more likely to be picked off. A player can have a deceivingly high pass percentage if all their successful passes are in the midfield or the back. Truly gifted attacking players will also have a high final third pass percentage, like Nasri.
Overall, Samir Nasri would fit better in to an outside attacking role for City. With his highly efficient final third passing, his creativity, and ability to create chances, Nasri would complement Silva, along with the solid midfield three of De Jong, Toure and Barry, the so-far-better-than-everyone-thought Dzeko, and the potential scoring machine of Aguero. Of course, this is hypothetical. A kid can dream though…