In an interview with French radio station RMC, Samir Nasri described Barcelona as "beatable"
Manchester City’s Samir Nasri is still a contentious topic amongst French football fans. In the lead up to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, there are still fans that would prefer if the former Arsenal player never pulled on the French jersey ever again.
In a move to hopefully atone for his mistakes, Nasri spoke to national sports radio station RMC and tried to set the air clear, giving somewhat of an apology for his behaviour during Euro 2012.
"When you're young, you don't worry about things. You think you know everything. With hindsight, maturity, and a certain form of intelligence, you ask questions of yourself. Because you know what you have done, it wasn't what you should have done. There are not only 23 of us playing, we're with 65 million people who we represent with that shirt. I have regrets over what happened at EURO 2012. That's not the way I was brought up. I dirtied my name, that of my parents too. I wasn't worthy of the shirt. So of course I have regrets."
Nasri’s regrets come after he received a three-match international ban for abusing a journalist after the defeat to Spain at Euro 2012, his outburst then led to a year-long exile from the France set-up. He has since been recalled and his performances have led to some fans changing their minds about the midfielder, although not everyone is convinced, and Nasri knows he still has a long way to go.
"I feel great. I am soon going to be 27. I tell myself I have wasted enough time and that I need to exploit my potential".
France were 2-1 down away at Belarus in a crucial World Cup qualifier when Nasri put in one of his best performances in a France shirt. Nasri’s link-up play with Franck Ribery and Mathieu Valbuena helped France level, he then scored the third before France would go on to win the difficult match 4-2. Without those vital three points, France might not have qualified for this summer’s tournament. Nasri is set to be named as part of Didier Deschamps 23-man squad, and the tournament will give the 26-year-old another chance to redeem himself.
Nasri is hoping to return to full training soon after missing the last month with a knee injury. He will undergo an MRI scan on Thursday and the results will determine whether or not he can make a return to full training. If the results are positive, Nasri said that he hopes to return for the FA Cup fixture against Chelsea on February 15th, the perfect warm-up for the last 16 Champions League tie against Barcelona.
"I've missed a month-and-a-half of competition. It's allowed me to recharge my batteries. With City, we're still in four competitions with the aim of winning them. In the Champions League, we are going to have an exciting game against Barca. For me, they are more beatable than in the past. Personally, I think we can knock them out. If our injured players are back, with a full team, I think we can beat them."
Under Roberto Mancini, Nasri’s performances had been far from inspirational, but this season under Manuel Pellegrini the Frenchman had been in excellent form prior to his injury. His performances have been like night and day under the two coaches, Nasri puts his improvements down to his relationship with the Argentine coach.
"I get on very well with Manuel Pellegrini. He understands me. I need affection. He gives me all that. He gave me that confidence again. He made me understand that I was once more an important player for the team. On the pitch, he gives me quite a lot of freedom. So I try to repay that faith as much as possible."
Nasri is saying all the right things, and his performances this season show that the promising and exciting player that the French public saw play for Marseille is still able to perform at the highest level.
The former Arsenal man still has a long way to go to convince the French public that he deserves their full forgiveness, but he is definitely doing all the right things. Now the majority of his talking must be done on the pitch for both club and country.