Nasri’s rebirth down to shift in attitude

The Rio Report

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'Ferme ta gueule!' Nasri mouthed after scoring Les Bleus' equaliser against England at EURO 2012, compounding his image as an ill-disciplined, immature brat with a violent verbal altercation with another member of the press following his country's quarter-final exit.

His three-game international ban and subsequent year-long exile from the national team seems to have worked wonders, however, for a player whose talent has never been in question, but whose temperament continues to be be pondered.

Those doubts may now be calmed with Nasri brought back into the bosom of Les Bleus by Didier Deschamps.

"He's come back with a positive attitude. He wants to repay the faith the coach has shown in him. The past is forgotten," Bacary Sagna told Le Parisien newspaper of his former Arsenal team-mate last week.

"He wants to do well, he has the qualities to do well and I know he will do well."

Sagna should perhaps whisk himself off to Vegas after seeing his prediction come up trumps against Australia in Friday's 6-0 friendly triumph when Nasri - in particular in tandem with Franck Ribery - was as good as he has been in a France shirt in what was his first start for his country since the EURO.

He had suggested that there was a new determination about him in substitute appearances in last month's qualifiers against Georgia and Belarus, scoring in the latter, but against Australia, he fully confirmed those suspicions.

Yes, the opposition was very weak - for once, the FIFA ranking list which had Australia 53rd prior to kick-off at the Parc des Princes did not look completely out of touch with reality as Lucas Neill et al were torn apart.

But Nasri's commitment was remarkable, often dropping into his own half to seize the ball and the initiative, while his play - notably in teeing up Olivier Giroud's second goal with a deft, flicked pass - was frequently a delight as he zipped about PSG's home with the speed and purpose of a hyperactive, malnourished mosquito.

"He has desire, he has hunger," Deschamps had said of Nasri last week.

It showed on Friday, and suggested the apology he made for his EURO 2012 outrage when he returned to the France squad for August's friendly with Belgium was not merely empty rhetoric.

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Samir Nasri has returned to form for Manchester City this season

Nasri's renaissance has also left Deschamps with an extra option. Placed as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1, Nasri - who has generally played wide left for City this season - excelled, and will now provide competition for Mathieu Valbuena. With Yoann Gourcuff's talent seemingly having disappeared into an abyss of fragile self-belief, Valbuena has - along with Ribery - become the undisputed technical leader of Les Bleus, the man who is looked to to find an answer, and very often provides one.

Though it had done little to affect the quality of his performances, le Petit Vélo (the Little Bike) as Valbuena is known, had had no serious rival for his place in the side. He does now.

"You can call that a problem of the rich," said Deschamps after Friday's rout, all but rubbing his hands together at the prospect of having greater permutations for his starting XI.

Despite that, Valbuena remains the man in charge of the post for now with Nasri having either to play second fiddle to the man who succeeded him at Marseille or be moved among the cellos (to continue the metaphor) on the right flank.

Though he may not be happy with that situation, Nasri is no longer the man to complain about such matters having seemingly had the sense to take the advice he so rudely dished out at EURO 2012.

By Ian Holyman / On Twitter @Ian_Holyman

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