Social media overlords have been blasted as cruel after pouncing on ex-France, Arsenal and Man City star Samir Nasri for looking significantly heavier in a match weeks after his retirement.

Playing in a charity game at former club Marseille on Wednesday, playmaker Nasri – known for weaving through defenses with his diminutive 5ft9in frame during his colorful career as an elite midfielder – caught the eye of many fans with a noticeably bulked physique.

Some noted that Nasri, who commanded a fee of around $34 million when Premier League giants City signed him in 2011, had only officially declared his retirement in September, despite looking to have gained a large amount of weight beyond the athletic build he would have been expected to maintain as a professional at previous club Anderlecht.

Numerous accounts with vast numbers of followers asked if the portly player on the pitch really was the 41-cap international, while others made none-too-subtle digs about how the 34-year-old, a Premier League winner with City, had been “enjoying his retirement”.

“Samir Nasri looked like he had a fat suit on – no joke,” jibed one supporter, having their say amid a landslide of lampooning for the unwitting target.

That has led to claims of body-shaming and even accusations that the influential accounts involved were paying scant regard to the familiar calls for kindness rather than criticism online.

“To all the big social media pages posting the picture of Samir Nasri – stop,” pleaded City and Sky Sports presenter Kyle Walker. “You know what you’re doing and it’s disgusting.

“Don’t be using that to gain likes and comments on one hand and then be posting about how important people’s mental health is on the other.”

Weeks rarely pass without stories about online bullying by trolls and earnest reminders about the importance of emotional wellbeing.

Earlier this year, clubs and organizations including the English FA boycotted social media for three-and-a-half days to highlight the abuse that players frequently receive.

“What’s this obsession with Samir Nasri and his weight?” asked one reporter. “So what if he’s put on a few pounds?

“He doesn’t play football and why the pressure to conform to a viewpoint of how one is supposed to look?

“Even now, we judge people based on their weight without knowing the background.”

Others asked whether it was “acceptable to body-shame anyone”. “The fat-shaming that an ex-professional footballer faces on social media shows you the kind of world we live in,” rued one.

Nasri, who also played for Sevilla, Antalyaspor and West Ham, made no mention of the controversy to his combined social media following of more than three million.

Supporters suggesting the player’s feelings could be hurt faced some accusations of a lack of good humor, and one health-conscious viewer retorted: “To be fair, the images are in the public domain.

“He played in a charity game looking like that. It should serve as an warning: when you stop playing, you need to take take better care of yourself.”

“He’s just enjoying himself,” said one observer who drew parallels between the images and heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury’s high-profile bygone weight gain amid his mental health crisis.

“There’s nothing really that crazy about it. The outlets that are reporting it are the same outlets that have been actively posting about Tyson Fury and him overcoming his battles with mental health. Ignorance is bliss.”

In the end, some pointed out, Nasri could justifiably laugh at his keyboard-tapping detractors. “Samir Nasri looks great,” said one. “He’s retired and he’s smiling. Don’t be d*cks.”

Another warned: “This is a reminder to everyone trying to make fun of Samir Nasri: he’s still far more athletic than you. And wealthier.”

Unflattering comparisons were also drawn between Nasri and Didier Drogba, the Chelsea legend who scored a hat-trick to help a team of former Marseille stars beat a UNICEF team 7-4 at the Stade Velodrome.

The game was held to raise funds for the former Blues forward’s foundation in his native Ivory Coast. (RT)