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."

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker