When Samir Nasri left Manchester City on loan on Transfer Deadline Day, it was said that his career would go only one of two ways; he would rediscover his love for football and thrive, or his career would tail off even further and ultimately result in a permanent switch to MLS.
Lucky for him then that it was transfer guru Monchi and Sevilla who came calling, seeking the final piece of the puzzle for new coach Jorge Sampaoli after their inability to replace Ever Banega.
Few would doubt Nasri’s overall ability prior to the move; he has been a key player for Arsenal, France and Manchester City at different parts of his career and when in the mood he is a delightful footballer to watch.
But it is his attitude which has been regularly called into question, as he has endured high-profile bust-ups and rarely endeared himself to the neutral.
His appearance in a seedy, drug-fuelled video posted by a friend in Las Vegas at the start of August didn’t exactly convince his critics that he was focused on football.
So far, though, he is behaving himself in Spain and actually making himself quite the standout performer.
A naughty stamp on an opponent in Sevilla’s derby clash with Real Betis towards the end of September almost threatened to derail him, but luckily for him the referee failed to spot it.
Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb showcased the very best of him.
“Nasri is performing and showing how good he is. He is a player at the height of his game, and he is getting us through the games.”
Jorge Sampaoli to reporters.
In fact, his effectiveness was almost beyond comprehension. Nasri attempted 158 passes as he completely ran the show in Croatia, a figure beaten only by Xavi in a Champions League game since the 2005-06 campaign.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 18, 2016
Further to that, his 142 successful passes was greater than the entire Dinamo team combined. In short, he has found his mojo again.
It was also fitting that it would he who scored the winning goal, capping off a fine move which he started with a cushioned finish from a Mariano cross.
Nasri’s game-winning goal for Sevilla against Dinamo Zagreb pic.twitter.com/5YqRJr9nze
— La Liga Daily (@LaLigaDaily1) October 18, 2016
Of course, it remains to be seen what happens with the Frenchman between now and the start of next season. Who know, he might fall out with everyone at Sevilla and be chased back to Manchester in January.
However, as it stands, he is a key player in a team that is still gelling and finding its collective feet. If he keeps up his current run of form, he will definitely be playing himself back into contention for a proper role at Manchester City next season.