Arsène Wenger has praised Samir Nasri's professionalism and will consider selecting the France international against Liverpool on Saturday, despite the Arsenal midfielder being on the verge of a £22m move to Manchester City.
The clubs have agreed a sum for Nasri, although negotiations continue over agent fees, with the City manager, Roberto Mancini, saying he hoped the deal would be closed "very quickly". The midfielder trained as normal at London Colney on Friday and will be considered for selection if no resolution is reached over his move.
"I am focused on winning the game and, when I pick my team, I don't think if he might leave the next day or the next week," Wenger said. "It doesn't mean anything to me. Nasri is in the squad. If I decide to play him, he will play. When you are professional you play until the last day. Everywhere I have worked in my life I have made sure that, up until the last second of where I was, I did the job properly.
"You do your job until the last day of your life at the club. He is paid this month by Arsenal. Why should he not play? If Samir plays against Liverpool, he can prove how committed he is to this club. I never questioned his love for this club. We are professionals as well, and I do not question Samir's commitment to this club. You can work for a company and love that company and, if someone comes and offers you three times more, you can leave and still love the company where you were before. This is the same."
Nasri was suspended for the first leg of Arsenal's Champions League qualifying tie against Udinese on Tuesday with Wenger suggesting he would have featured had he been available. His midfield options are severely restricted against Liverpool, with Cesc Fábregas sold, Alex Song suspended, Jack Wilshere injured and Tomas Rosicky rested with Wednesday's return leg in Italy in mind. There are problems, too, in defence with the 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson likely to be handed his debut in the absence of Kieran Gibbs, Johan Djourou and Armand Traoré.
Wenger described events this summer as "swimming a bit against the stream" and his mood was hardly improved by Uefa opening disciplinary proceedings against him for apparently communicating with his bench while suspended from the touchline against Udinese. The manager claimed to be "surprised" by that decision, with Arsenal just as baffled given that they had sought clarification from the Uefa delegate responsible for the tie last Monday as to whether Wenger could speak with those on the bench via a third party.
"They gave us the rules and we observed, strictly, what they told us," Wenger said. "I don't know why the rules changed from what they told us before." Arsenal are collecting witness statements from those at the pre-match meeting where the matter had been discussed and will present their evidence at the hearing on Monday. If found guilty, Wenger is likely to be fined rather than to receive a further touchline ban.
Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, has defended Wenger from recent criticism. "Arsène Wenger has been fantastic for the football club. That doesn't exempt you from criticism but it's something people should remember," the Liverpool manager said. "When they were in a bit of trouble, he guided them through it. He has always been a fantastic seller of players. Petit, Overmars, Henry, Vieira, Anelka – he has got the best value for his club when they needed help financially. If Arsène was good for them then, plus he was bringing in trophies, then the only thing missing now is the trophies."
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