French international midfielder Samir Nasri has agreed to join Arsenal from Olympique Marseille on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee.
The 21-year-old, who made two appearances for France at Euro 2008, was voted as the French Ligue 1 'Young Player of the Year' for 2006/07 and was Marseille's Player of the Year for 2007.
Samir granted his first interview to Arsenal.com shortly after arriving in England. Read on to find out how much Arsène Wenger was a factor in his decision to move, his friendship with Arsenal's French contingent, the advice he received from Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira and his hopes for next season.
Samir, welcome to London and to Arsenal Football Club. Can you give us your thoughts on becoming an Arsenal player?
"I’m very happy to become an Arsenal player, it means such a lot to me. This is a very important step in my life as a football player because Arsenal is a massive club."
How important was Arsène Wenger in your decision to join Arsenal?
"The fact that Arsène Wenger gives great opportunities to young players is very important for me. Arsène has a great reputation and he is one of the best managers in the world. He has proved that he puts a lot of confidence in the young players and he gives them a chance. It was very important for me to have such a great manager to work with and I’m really looking forward to working with both Arsène Wenger and all my new team-mates."
Do you know many of the Arsenal players? You must be quite close to the French players?
"Yes, I know all the French players. Of course, I have played with William Gallas in the national team and was with him in the France squad for the Euro 2008 championships. I have also played with Gael Clichy and Abou Diaby in the France Under-21 team. So I don’t arrive in an unfamiliar place. And I already know some other players as well. For example, Cesc Fabregas, who I played against in the Under-17 European Cup a few years ago. I obviously know all the players, as I have followed the team’s progress, but I am really looking forward to meeting everyone."
Arsenal have a great link to France and French players, with players such as Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira both making huge contributions to the Club. Are you aware of this link?
"I know Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira very well and they have told me a lot of good things about Arsenal Football Club. They both had amazing times at this Club and, even talking to them now, they are still very enthusiastic about Arsenal. Both Thierry and Patrick have given me a lot of advice and they both told me that it was the best choice for me to come to Arsenal."
Was it a difficult decision to leave Marseille?
"I had good times at Marseille, but no, it was not difficult, as I leave the past behind me now that I have signed for Arsenal. This is a new stage in my career. When I was with Marseille, I was still the little boy, staying with my mum and dad, and today it’s a great moment for me to join Arsenal. It will be a little weird because I will have to get used to a new life, but I’m grown up now and I am ready to cope with this change."
How would you describe yourself as a player?
"I am an offensive midfielder. I like offensive, technical and quick football, exactly in the style of Arsenal. I hope I will integrate myself quickly in this team and bring everything I can to Arsenal and its fans. I can play in the centre or on the wing. During my career, I have played behind one or two strikers or on the left, or the right hand side."
Did you watch much of Arsenal last season?
"Yes I did and I loved it! I found the Arsenal way of playing football amazing. Unfortunately, the team just missed out on winning a trophy, but with regards to football, in my opinion Arsenal produced the best football in Europe. I was a big fan of the team and of its football philosophy, which makes it so great for me to be joining the Club."
And finally Samir, do you have a message for the Arsenal fans?
"I really hope everything will go well for me here. I will give my best for Arsenal and its fans and I am honoured to be part of such a great football club."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 11 Jul 2008