Football can be funny sometimes. Serge Gnabry destroyed his second London club this season, scoring a brace against Chelsea for Bayern Munich’s 3-0 victory in the Champions League last night. It was a masterful display from the forward and I think very few people doubt that Gnabry is world-class nowadays.
And yet, several years ago the youngster was labeled “not good enough” to start for West Bromwich Albion by Toni Pulis, of all people.
So it got me thinking, how did Gnabry develop from not good enough for West Brom to a Bayern Munich and Germany star? Let’s take a look at the path of the player since his early days.
Early Development and Move to Wenger’s Arsenal
Serge Gnabry showed a lot of talent for sports in his early days and was torn between football and athletics. He eventually decided for the former and went through different smaller clubs before joining Stuttgart in 2006.
Four later, Arsenal’s scouting network noticed Gnabry’s developing talent and the club agreed a deal with Stuttgart. The boy had to wait for his 16th birthday and joined Arsenal.
The Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger was a huge admirer of the winger and had high hopes of his future. Considering the Frenchman’s reputation of working with talented attacking players, it’s safe to say that Gnabry made a solid decision.
He slowly fought his way through the youth and reserves squads, before receiving a chance to shine for the first team.
Gnabry made his debut in the 2012-13 season and showed a lot of promise. He received more minutes in the following campaign and regularly was part of Arsenal’s bench. All signs pointed at a bright future and an imminent breakthrough in the starting lineup.
The player received a new 5-year contract in 2014 and was nominated for the Golden Boy award.
Unfortunately for the winger and the club, Gnabry was injured in the spring of 2014 and missed almost a year, including the entire 2014-15 season.
Tough Times and a Loan to West Brom
The tough knee injury held Gnabri’s development and pushed him away from the Arsenal first team. Wenger was still keen on the player but wanted to see him get some match practice and the German was sent to West Bromwich Albion.
It was a strange decision because the club was managed by Tony Pulis who was known for his negative tactics. I’m not sure what Arsenal were thinking back at the day, but Gnabry barely featured for West Brom and returned to the Gunners in January.
He lacked first-team opportunities and that made him consider his options in the summer.
Move to Werder Bremen and a Loan to Hoffenheim
Arsene Wenger wanted to keep Serge Gnabry, but couldn’t guarantee him playing time. That’s why the youngster decided against signing a new deal and the Gunners were forced to sell him to Werder Bremen in 2016.
According to the rumors, the club had an agreement in place with Bayern Munich. The idea was to secure Gnabry at a reduced cost, while Werder would get the talent for one season. It’s hard to say if that’s true, but I won’t be shocked if that’s the case.
The important fact is that Bayern Munich signed Gnabry in the summer of 2017 and immediately send the player to Hoffenheim. That was the desire of the forward, as he wanted more experience, knowing that earning a starting spot for the German champions would be hard.
After a slow start, Gnabry had an excellent season and helped Hoffenheim finish third in the German Bundesliga. He scored ten times for the club and developed his game even further.
Rise to Stardom with Bayern Munich
After the loan to Hoffenheim, Serge Gnabry’s long-awaited rise to the highest level finally arrived. The forward joined Bayern Munich and methodically earned more and more minutes on the pitch with his performances.
He scored ten goals in the first season and in 2019-20, Gnabry became one of the key players of the Germans. The winger already has 17 goals in all competitions and looks unstoppable.
If you add his excellent stats for the German national side, it’s easy to see that Gnabry might be one of the best players in his position at the age of 24.
Serge Gnabry was destined to play at the top and Arsene Wenger knew that. The Frenchman was hoping for the youngster to fulfill his potential at Arsenal, but a terrible knee injury in a crucial moment changed his path forever.
The misfortune of the Gunners worked in favor of Bayern Munich. The Bavarians have one of the best young players in their ranks and Serge Gnabry certainly will be pivotal for their future and German football as a whole.