French TV presenter Pierre Menes has called Samir Nasri the real problem within the French squad.
He made a goal-scoring return to Manchester City's line-up last week against Chelsea, but Samir Nasri still has a long way to go to convince the French public that he is worthy of a place in the international set-up. Pierre Menes, presenter on one of France's biggest football shows, Canal Football Club, has launched an attack one the former Arsenal midfielder, proclaiming that Nasri is "the real problem" for France coach Didier Deschamps.
"The two matches against the Ukraine allowed Deschamps to assess the side. I think two or three will get dropped. I will not beat around the bush: the real problem is Nasri, whether or not he will go to the World Cup. Currently, I would say no. It's not about the level or quality of the player, because obviously he has his place in the France team. "
"A big tournament, between the preparation and the first round there is at least four weeks of living together. You cannot allow yourself to have a guy who brings a disease to the squad. This is very unfortunate. I hear things ... The cowardice of some of our colleagues is astounding, it is well known that the guys stick together when someone tries to go against them. Deschamps made a mistake in the first leg against the Ukraine. I'm sure he knows. "
Nasri's reputation and place in the French national team has been a bone of contention for the last few years. Many French fans believe he shouldn't be anywhere the squad, never mind in the starting line-up. Their doubts come not only from years' of poor performances, but also his attitude in and around the squad. His foul-mouthed outburst after the defeat to Spain at Euro 2012 lives long in the memory of the French public and backs-up their theory that some current young players have no respect and don't deserve the chance to represent their country.
The player himself is trying to find redemption. He recently apologised for his behaviour on radio station RMC, but words are one thing, he needs to do his talking on the pitch. It will start with his continued good form for Manchester City, but then it needs to continue to the national team, if Deschamps decides to call him up.
In the first leg of the World Cup play-off against Ukraine, Nasri was given the nod ahead of Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena. Nasri was close to invisible, and because he had replaced someone that had been instrumental in France's excellent form, the inclusion of Nasri didn't go down well. Valbuena was then excellent in the second-leg, justifying the anger at Nasri's selection.
The problem with Nasri is where you play him. In Blanc's 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, he isn't able to play on the wings due to a lack of pace and defensive ability, but he also hasn't played well in the number 10 role. His club performances this season have been much improved, but without a series of excellent displays wearing Les Bleus, the French jury will continue to rule against Nasri.
Didier Deschamps has a big decision to make this summer.