Samir Nasri has told RMC Manchester City's Champions League opponents Barcelona are "more beatable" than in previous years, and acknowledged the impact of Manuel Pellegrini on his return to form.
Nasri, 26, will undergo an MRI scan on Thursday to determine whether or not he can return to full training as he continues his recovery from a knee injury sustained in early January. Should he get the all-clear, Nasri said he hoped to return to action in City's FA Cup tie with Chelsea on 15 February, three days before they play host to Barca in the first leg of their last 16 tie.
"I've missed a month-and-a-half of competition. It's allowed me to recharge my batteries. With City, we're still in four competitions with the aim of winning them. In the Champions League, we are going to have an exciting game against Barca. For me, they are more beatable than in the past. Personally, I think we can knock them out. If our injured players are back, with a full team, I think we can beat them."
Prior to his spell on the sidelines, Nasri had been in sparkling form for City. His displays are in stark contrast to the lukewarm performances he produced under Roberto Mancini, who used the French international sparingly. Nasri puts the transformation down to Pellegrini.
"I get on very well with Manuel Pellegrini. He understands me. I need affection. He gives me all that. He gave me that confidence again. He made me understand that I was once more an important player for the team. On the pitch, he gives me quite a lot of freedom. So I try to repay that faith as much as possible."
Nasri has not always been so ready to do that. He received a three-match international ban for abusing a journalist at EURO 2012 that led to a year-long exile from the France set-up. Though now recalled, he remains determined to makeover his bad boy image.
"I feel great. I am soon going to be 27. I tell myself I have wasted enough time and that I need to exploit my potential," the former Marseille and Arsenal man explained.
"When you're young, you don't worry about things. You think you know everything. With hindsight, maturity, and a certain form of intelligence, you ask questions of yourself. Because you know what you have done, it wasn't what you should have done. There are not only 23 of us playing, we're with 65 million people who we represent with that shirt. I have regrets over what happened at EURO 2012. That's not the way I was brought up. I dirtied my name, that of my parents too. I wasn't worthy of the shirt. So of course I have regrets."