Arsène Wenger is closing in on Marseille’s attacking midfielder Samir Nasri as he looks to strengthen his Arsenal squad for next season.
Nasri, a France international who has been named in Raymond Domenech’s provisional 30-man squad for the European Championship next month, is most comfortable in a central position. He can play on either flank and would seem to be equipped to fill the role of Alexander Hleb who, according to his agent, is determined to leave the club this summer.
Nasri, 20, signed a four-year deal at Marseille this month but it contains a buy-out clause of €17m (£13.5m) and the Arsenal manager is preparing to pay it. Talks have been held with his representatives and Nasri indicated on Saturday, after scoring in Marseille’s 4-3 win over Strasbourg which secured qualification for the Champions League, that he is ready to bid farewell. “It is very important [to score] because it is perhaps my last match at the Stade Vélodrome,” he said.
Nasri is an instinctive and skilful touch player who has pace, vision and a good temperament. He may well replace a similar player in Hleb, who has had his head turned by the interest of Internazionale. They have been preoccupied by the chase for the scudetto but after securing it last Sunday, Hleb can resume talks.
Wenger has had to rethink plans to make only the finest of tuning to his squad over the summer. He has already lost Mathieu Flamini, a midfielder, on a Bosman free to Milan and there are doubts over Gilberto Silva, who has only a year remaining on his deal.
The ageing goalkeeper Jens Lehmann may also sign for the German side Stuttgart after meeting with club officials yesterday. The club who finished sixth in the Bundesliga are thought to be offering Lehmann a one-year contract with an option for a second year. The 38-year-old discussed a move before flying to Mallorca with the Germany squad to begin their Euro 2008 preparations.
Stuttgart require a keeper after Raphael Schafer, signed from Nurnberg last year, failed to live up to expectations. However the general manager, Horst Heldt, said they will not be held to ransom by Lehmann. “If he wants to earn as much as he did at Arsenal, then we have no chance.”