Mancini warns Arsenal over 'big problem' with Nasri deal

City manager says he does not want to see midfield target cup-tied for Champions League

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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini raised the stakes in the Samir Nasri transfer saga yesterday when he warned that Manchester City could turn their attentions elsewhere if the Arsenal midfielder plays in Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier against Udinese and is cup-tied for the competition this season.

The City manager, whose team went to the top of the Premier League table after a 3-2 win away at Bolton, said it would be a “big problem” if, as Arsene Wenger has threatened to do this weekend, he picks Nasri for Arsenal’s crucial second leg game in north-east Italy.

Nasri unexpectedly played for Arsenal against Liverpool on Saturday despite the continued negotiations over his pnds25m move to City. Mancini said that he remained confident that the deal would be done before the Arsenal squad leaves for Udine[corr] tomorrow afternoon but that he could not guarantee it.

Mancini said: “I hope that we can have Samir Nasri [today]. I hope we can have him in the next day but I don’t know when. We still have 10 days. We need some players if we want to complete our team. I hope he [Nasri] is not the last one in. If he plays in the Champions League [for Arsenal] it is a big problem. I don’t know [if I would still sign him] but hopefully we close in the next 24 hours.”

It is anticipated that Nasri will still sign for City in the next 48 hours, however, Mancini’s warning will not go unnoticed in the player’s camp who it has been suggested are delaying the completion of the deal over agents’ fees. “It’s a big problem because we have followed Nasri for 40 days,” Mancini said. “I wasn’t surprised [he played against Liverpool] because James [Milner] played in Astion Villa’s first game [last season before he joined City]. After that he arrived [at City].”

Asked whether Nasri being cup-tied might change his perspective on the player, he said: “For Nasri it will be important to play all the Champions League [for City]. It could be possible [for City to re-assess their targets].”

Yesterday’s win at the Reebok stadium with goals from David Silva, Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko also saw the return of Carlos Tevez to the City team for the first time since another turbulent summer in which he has voiced his desire to leave the club. Tevez came on as a second half substitute to a warm reception from the travelling fans and Mancini said that he did not see the Argentinian leaving this month.

The City manager said that he has still not made a decision on whether Tevez will be captain or whether the job will go permanently to Vincent Kompany, who did not hand the armband over to his team-mate yesterday. Mancini said: “Carlos is here and I don’t think we can change the situation. He is an important player and a top player for us and at the moment we have not received any offers for him and [that is why] he is here.”

Having been ahead 2-0 and 3-1, City twice allowed Bolton back into the game with goals from Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies that Mancini described as “stupid” mistakes by his team. “It is important that the team has balance and that we don’t concede a stupid goal [like yesterday],” he said. “Both were stupid goals because in the first half we dominated the game. We lost the ball once and left the [Martin] Petrov cross and it was a goal. If you don’t mark it is a problem. Until the last second the match was open.

“For me, we cannot concede two goals like we did [against Bolton]. We need to pay more attention. We need to score 15 goals more than we did last year [over the course of the season] but we cannot concede more than we did last year.” The City manager denied reports that he would be prepared to let the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy leave on free transfers before the transfer window closes.

The Bolton manager Owen Coyle said that he regretted his team “gifting” City two goals. “If a club like this are going to beat you then you have to make them earn it,” he said, although Coyle refused to single out Jussi Jaaskelainen and Zat Knight, both of whom were at fault. “But if there were mistakes made then they were not made on purpose and the same players have been outstanding at other times,” he said.