United open talks with £8m Nasri

In a huge blow to Arsène Wenger, Arsenal's French midfielder moves step closer to sealing Old Trafford transfer

Manchester United yesterday began talks with Samir Nasri's representatives, as their early summer activity continued to frustrate Arsenal and leave other clubs trailing in their wake.

The talks in Manchester were only exploratory, conducted among intermediaries from both sides, and did not include the Frenchman's agent Jean-Pierre Bernes. But United's willingness to open negotiations with a midfielder who appears to have concluded that he has no future at Arsenal suggests they may be ready to capitalise on an opportunity in the transfer market. The 23-year-old, who was superb in the first half of last season, will fall out of contract next summer and will therefore come cheap – possibly as little as £8m.

United hold a fair number of the cards if their interest firms up. Chelsea have indicated that they are not interested in signing the player, who joined Arsenal in 2008, but it is understood that he does want to stay in England. With United's £17m deal to sign Ashley Young set to be completed by the weekend, Nasri appears to be just one of a number of options. The prospect of Wesley Sneijder moving to Old Trafford from Internazionale remains a genuine one.

Neither can a move for Tottenham's Luka Modric be ruled out, even though Chelsea may offer competition for him. United are keeping their options open, with the past 48 hours underlining Sir Alex Ferguson's resolve to do far more than merely tinker with his squad as he sets about getting closer to the standard Barcelona attained in last month's Champions League final. There has, as yet, been no official approach from United to Arsenal about Nasri. The losers in the Nasri saga are again Arsenal, who had retained some hope that he would be willing to give them first refusal on his continued services and consider any new deal they put before him when he returned from international duty. Nasri was left out of the France squad that played Poland last night.

But Nasri, evidently dissatisfied by the events of last season, feels that he will not collect silverware by staying in north London and had sanctioned yesterday's discussions. It would be a bitter blow for Arsène Wenger if United do take the Frenchman, in the week that he lost Blackburn Rovers' Phil Jones to his old adversary, Ferguson – despite several phone calls made in an attempt to wrest him out of United's grasp.

Nasri's departure would also leave Arsenal more in need than ever of holding on to Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard's departure to Barcelona is slightly less likely this summer than last, but just as Nasri's representatives arrived in Manchester yesterday, the usual summer noises from Catalonia began, linking Fabregas with the European champions. Arsenal would sell him if they receive an offer of at least £45m.

"He's a great player and he's a player from Barcelona because he already knows the language we speak on the pitch," said Gerard Pique on a day when the Spanish papers were full of talk of Fabregas finally returning to Barcelona. "He is a great friend of mine and of course I want him to end up wearing the Barcelona shirt." Fabregas is expected to holiday in Ibiza this summer with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, as he did last year.

The prospect of Nasri simply positioning himself for an improved six-figure deal at Arsenal cannot entirely be ruled out. Wenger has said of the player: "One thing's for sure – we're not selling him to Manchester United." But Nasri responded to that on TF1's Telefoot on French television at the weekend. "Let's find out if their interest is true first," he said. "Then we'll talk about it. I don't know if I will sign a new contract. Anyway, the discussions are ongoing. Do I want to go to United? We should see if their interest is real and if it is concrete first."

Arsenal respect Nasri and believe he would not try to negotiate a better deal publicly. The contracts of both Nasri and his compatriot Gaël Clichy expire next summer and the club hope to tie them to five-year deals worth £90,000-a-week.

Though there are suggestions that Arsenal may be ready to move for Bolton's Gary Cahill, a Modric move to Chelsea would be by far the greater statement of intent. Chelsea are also understood to be planning to retain the services of Didier Drogba.

Sneijder is not understood to interest Chelsea, and the Dutch playmaker also appeared eager to cool talk of a move to Manchester yesterday, describing his life with Internazionale in Milan as "beautiful and picturesque". "At Inter, there is a family atmosphere, and there is every reason to aim high," he said. "Milan is beautiful, picturesque. Elegance reigns, and I love it. At the moment I am very happy here, I do not see why I should go."

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions