Exclusive: Nasri sale will affect Arsenal more than Fabregas exit, says ex-Gunner
Former Arsenal star Stewart Robson believes Arsene Wenger cannot afford to lose a second star player
Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson believes the impending departure of Samir Nasri could prove a bigger blow to the Gunners title ambitions than the loss of skipper Cesc Fabregas.
The Spaniard finally sealed his dream move back to Barcelona on Monday after two years of endless speculation. Now all eyes turn to France midfielder Nasri, who is angling for a move away from Emirates Stadium with only one year remaining on his contract.
Manchester City are hovering with a reputed �22m bid already lodged – but Robson wishes Arsene Wenger will keep him, even though the club could lose the France international for nothing next season.
“Tactically, losing Nasri will be much harder for the squad to absorb than Fabregas,” said Robson, now a respected pundit on Talksport and Arsenal TV Online.
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“We play with three in the middle, and with the style we play we have to dominate the midfield. Wenger’s preferred three now is Ramsey-Song-Wilshere – so in that sense we have replacements already there, it won’t affect the style too much, because is quality there. But we need that all-important figure further up the field who has the guile to open up defences.
“In that sense, Nasri, when he is fully on-song, is a key player for Arsenal. They need a player behind the striker to really make that possession count with chances. If Nasri goes, Arsene Wenger doesn’t have long to buy new players in – the transfer window shuts in a fortnight.
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“He could pull Robin van Persie back into that position, but it would not be ideal. Gervinho and Theo Walcott could both have a go there too, but, again, that is not the ideal scenario...”
Nasri took to Twitter this week to criticise Arsenal fans who had sung derogatory songs about him during last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Newcastle, calling them “disrespectful”.
He tweeted: “I heard what the fans were singing about me on Saturday and it is really disrespectful because I’m still a (sic) Arsenal player.”
But he then appeared to backtrack and added that a Facebook account in which he said he was leaving the club was a fake.
But while his future remains in the balance, Fabregas’s eight-year spell at the club came to an end this week – much to Robson’s relief.
“We haven’t had Fabregas for six months now. He has been elsewhere and so as far as I am concerned it is a positive step that he has left the club,” said Robson, who made 186 appearances for the Gunners before moving to West Ham in January 1987.
“I’m actually surprised he has had such great press because he has been stroppy and poor. Some of his on-pitch behaviour last year was frankly embarrassing. Arsene Wenger made it clear he wanted to keep him, but the player wanted to leave.
“Fabregas was on a long-term contract and Wenger could have kept him but decided enough was enough – time to move on.
“The fact there was a high level of relief among fans that he has finally left the club tells you everything. It’s time to concentrate on those players who want to play for Arsenal Football Club.”