Nasri heads to Manchester, not Italy, as City close in
The France midfielder trained with the Gunners yesterday morning as they prepared for a crucial Champions League play-off second leg match against Udinese tonight.
But, instead of travelling to Italy, he made for Manchester, where he was due to undergo a medical as he sought to finalise his move north.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted the constant speculation surrounding Nasri and Cesc Fabregas – who last week completed a move to Barcelona – has been “draining” for the team, who have made a disappointing start in the Barclays Premier League.
The Frenchman said: “The summer was very difficult because we had Cesc Fabregas and Nasri on permanent transfer negotiations and that is draining in the end.
“We lost two great players and that’s a sad side of the story but at some stage it has to be over, because you want to focus on the future.”
City have reportedly agreed to pay in the region of £24 million for Nasri, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has refused to sign a new deal.
Wenger, asked if the timing of the transfer had anything to do with Nasri potentially being cup-tied for Champions League football if he featured against Udinese, added: “You cannot think only about one game in the season and the decision had a logic but it is of course, as well, a business interest.
“But, overall, what you want is that you have players who do not play and think they go the next morning. It’s not ideal as well. So you want players who are completely committed to the long-term, to defend our chances.”
Asked if it was naive to think the deal could have been finalised sooner, Wenger said: “It’s not naive but what you forget maybe is that it doesn’t depend only on us. We wanted to sort all these cases out very early after the summer but it wasn’t possible. And the pace is not only dictated by us, unfortunately.”
Nasri will be the second key player to leave Arsenal this month after Barcelona signed captain Fabregas for a reported fee of around e40 million.
City had already paid out around £50 million in this transfer window on Argentina forward Sergio Aguero, French left-back Gael Clichy – also bought from Arsenal – and Montenegro defender Stefan Savic.
Since being taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group in August 2008, City have spent an unprecedented amount for British football on buying top players.
In 2009, they bought Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor. During the August 2010 transfer window their outlay was around £130 million on players such as Yaya Toure, David Silva and Mario Balotelli.
Under Roberto Mancini, who took over as manager in late 2009, City finished third in the Premier League last season, one place above Arsenal. City also won the FA Cup, their first major trophy in 35 years.
While City are clearly moving forward with intent, Wenger is under increasing pressure from fans to buy a big-name player to replace Fabregas and Nasri, and to end the club’s six-year trophy drought.
Asked if this was the most challenging time he had ever faced as Arsenal manager, he said: “I believe that’s part of my job. I’m not at all destabilised by that. Overall, my job is to give my best to do well for my club and that’s what I do with complete belief in the team and the players I have available.”