Nasri and Fabregas: Two very different tales

Just as night still follows day and the youth of the nation still feel thoroughly marginalised, it seems many top-level footballers still lack any sense of loyalty or obligation beyond the realms of their own ego-driven, selfish desires.

The general belief around the rumbling transfer sagas at Arsenal this summer is that it is Cesc Fabregas, and not Samir Nasri, who is indebted to Arsene Wenger and should stay put to repay Arsenal's managerial mastermind.

Those who decried the Spaniard’s return to Barcelona assert that the now former Gunners skipper owed Wenger more for plucking him from Barcelona's youth set-up - where he apparently would have eventually festered behind Andres Iniesta and Xavi in the pecking order - and turning him into a world class talent at one of the world's leading clubs.

By way of contrast, Nasri was already a first-team regular at Marseille and, as the heir apparent to Zinedine Zidane's throne as the King of French football, was destined for the very top regardless of which club he played for.

Wenger was unquestionably a significant influence on Fabregas' development, but it would be folly to overlook his natural talent and the fact that he most likely would have succeeded anywhere.

Yes, he would have been, and indeed still is, far from certain to be selected over Iniesta and Xavi, but Barcelona's manager Pep Guardiola has already shown a propensity to promote youth players if they're good enough. Sergio Busquets and Pedro, key to Barcelona's unprecedented trophy haul under Guardiola and members of Spain's triumphant 2010 World Cup team, are testament to this. There is no reason to suggest Fabregas won’t be afforded plenty of game time.

One of Guardiola's biggest concerns is that he is rarely able to rest key men such as Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi, and that they could suffer from burnout as a result. Signing Fabregas helps allay those fears - even Messi could benefit from a rest, should Guardiola decide to use Iniesta as part of a front three and deploy Fabregas in midfield.

This summer's conclusion to one of football's longest-running transfer sagas is the culmination of what has been an incredibly aggressive tug of war. A fee of around £35 million for a player who cost Arsenal a six-figure sum represents a marvelous piece of business for the London club, regardless of the importance of the asset sold.

In an era when many players adopt an unashamedly diva-like, self-indulgent demeanor until their wishes are satisfied, squeezing the last two or three seasons out of Fabregas reflects well, not only on Wenger, but also the player himself.

With that under consideration, it's fair to say that Fabregas has repaid Wenger's faith and vision, something Nasri is still a long way from doing.

Nasri has long been heralded as the successor to Zidane but, despite a considerable reputation and obvious ability, Wenger was the first coach willing to take him to one of European football's major leagues and nurture that raw talent.

After an indifferent first season in London, he has clearly improved as a player, but has yet to dominate an entire game - let alone season - in the way that one would expect of someone drawing comparisons with a phenomenon like Zidane.

Make no mistake, Nasri's goal against Fulham was one of the highlights of the 2010/11 season and showed a delicate technical ability and balance on a par with some of the world's best. But that's as good as it's got for him. At the moment, Nasri's far more Robinho than Zidane, more Ribery than Ballack. He is not - and indeed exhibits no sign of - being the next Zidane.

If he had any sense, he'd stay at Arsenal, become a key player for them and continue to improve under Wenger's tutelage in the same way Patrick Vieira, Theirry Henry and Cesc Fabregas all did before him.

At Manchester City, he'll face the fiercest imaginable competion for a first team berth, with Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, David Silva, Shaun Wright-Phillips and James Milner all likely to be competing for two or three positions.

Beyond the obvious financial benefits of moving to Manchester City, there is realistically little else that can seriously appeal to him. The opportunity to work with Roberto Mancini can surely not match the appeal of working with Wenger, a man universally regarded as one of the game’s elite managers.

Despite their wealth and an FA Cup win, there is no guarantee City are about to embark on some kind of Barcelona-like trophy winning spree. Don't be fooled, this is a player who's had his head turned by the promise of big money.

In leaving Arsenal at the first opportunity presented to him, Nasri will have underlined exactly how he has taken Wenger's support for granted. It seems that a manager who spent big money on him, stuck with him despite his frustrating inconsistency and improved him deserves no loyalty. Unlike Fabregas, Nasri hasn't rewarded Wenger's patience and hasn't attempted to repay him.

Zidane was a big game player, a winner, a model professional and a balletic, elegant individual. For the man supposedly ready to succeed Zizou, these appear elusive qualities.

While Nasri may substantially increase his personal wealth, he’s at serious risk of becoming another expendable commodity in a gargantuan squad of superstars.

Like Zidane, Wenger will go down in the annals of history as a man who had a genuine, lasting impact upon football and who'll forever have a place in the hearts of myriad fans.

Nasri? Just another mercenary who believed his own hype.

Follow Declan Warrington on Twitter @decwarrington

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