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New West Ham United signing Samir Nasri says he has “nothing but love for Arsenal” as he prepares to make another Premier League debut against his old club, whom he left seven years ago under unceremonious circumstances.
Nasri joined West Ham on a short-term contract at the beginning of January and was named in Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI to face Arsenal on Saturday.
The Frenchman joined Manchester City in 2011 after refusing to sign a new contract at the Emirates Stadium, but he told Sky Sports he has no ill will towards the north Londoners:
“I’m looking forward to it because it will hopefully be my first game back in the Premier League. I was in the squad against Brighton [& Hove Albion] but I stayed on the bench so it would be nice. As well, in the past, maybe we had some words with the Arsenal fans, but like I said, there is nothing but love for the club because I spent three wonderful years there.
“Before I used to say things about Arsenal because I was hurt by the treatment from the fans, but there is nothing but love for Arsenal.”
The feeling may not be reciprocated by the Gunners fans, who have previously demonstrated their animosity towards Nasri, as well as Gael Clichy, who left the club for City in similar circumstances, via Goal:
Samir Nasri is looking forward to seeing the Arsenal fans later 👀
It’s perhaps a saving grace for the 31-year-old that Saturday’s game takes place at London Stadium in east London and not the Emirates, where he’d be certain to receive a frostier reception.
Despite Nasri’s statement of love towards his old employers, journalist James Benge assured the sentiment would not be returned:
James Benge @jamesbenge
Nasri makes his first Premier League start in two and a half years, and he's going to be in for a rough old time from Arsenal fans. Arnautovic is also in the team.
The ex-France international recently became eligible to play at the professional level again after serving an 18-month ban for doping.
Nasri was on loan at Sevilla from Manchester City in 2016 when he was administered an intravenous drip treatment and received more than the legal dosage for a footballer.
He made his West Ham debut as a starter in their recent 2-0 win against Birmingham City in the third round of the FA Cup, when he impressed in attacking midfield before coming off on the hour mark:
Nasri also told Sky Sports he was “100 per cent” confident that he was just as talented a player as he once was, which could be a tricky prospect for an Arsenal side that’s failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five Premier League games.
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