The 26-year-old France international left the Gunners in 2011 to join the big-spending Citizens at the Etihad for a fee in the region of £25 million. The attacking midfielder had been Arsenal’s shining light that season scoring 15 goals in all competitions in 2010/11 but after making just one appearance in 2011/12, he signed for City.
Labelled a mercenary at the time, Nasri has taken plenty of opportunities to hit back at the Gunners’ faithful over the years but has maintained his respect for manager Arsene Wenger whom he has described as being like a father to him.
Nasri struggled to find form and confidence last term in what was Roberto Mancini’s final season in charge at the Etihad but has seen a resurgence in his form and confidence under Manuel Pellegrini this term, scoring 8 goals and making five assist in all competitions but he has still yet to replicate his performances for the Gunners in his last season.
Now, older and perhaps a little wiser too, Nasri believes the ‘heated’ reception he expects to receive this Saturday from the home support is a reflection of how much they loved him when he played for Arsenal, rather than a reflection of their dissatisfaction of the way he left.
"I don't expect to be welcomed with open arms by the crowd but hopefully that's because they were disappointed to see me leave and perhaps at some point they loved me,” he told his club’s official website.
Incidentally, Nasri left North London the same summer the Gunners sold former captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona – the local boy from Catalonia is still held in very high esteem by the club, the manager and the fans despite moving on.
There’s little doubt Arsenal fans loved the former skipper who spent eight years at the club more than they loved Nasri who spent three years at the club after arriving from Marseille – I think he is perhaps a little hopeful in his assertion that the reception he receives at the Emirates is purely down to disappointment.
Arsenal fans were disappointed when Fabregas left – but they understood – they were hurt when, for example, Gael Clichy left but they wished him well. The reason Arsenal fans object fiercely to Samir Nasri is not just because they loved him (which I’m sure they did, of course) and not because he left but because of the manner in which he left and the comments he has made to rile them since. In fact, his latest comments are unlikely to do anything but fan the fire ahead of that ‘hot’ reception he’ll likely receive on Saturday.