Serge Gnabry is fast becoming one of the best wingers in European football due to his performances for Bayern Munich and the German national team but his path to the top echelons of football hasn’t been an easy journey by any means.
After starting out in Arsenal’s youth teams, the winger’s potential was evident for all to see but his chances of transforming into a top player continued to diminish each year he failed to perform in senior football.
He made his first-team debut against Coventry in the League Cup in September 2012 and also went on to make his Premier League and Champions League debuts in the same season thus becoming Arsenal’s second-youngest debutant in the English top flight after Jack Wilshere.
His performances excited Arsenal fans and he properly announced himself to the club faithful in the 2013/14 season with a series of impressive displays, amongst which was a man of the match showing against Tottenham in an FA Cup game.
The youngster was rewarded with a new five-year contract as the Gunners looked to the future but what followed was a truckload of bad luck which effectively ended his Arsenal career.
Gnabry missed most of the 2014-15 campaign with a serious knee injury, which kept him away for over a year, and it started a downward spiral in his short career as the youngster was eventually sent out on loan to West Brom in August 2015 to gain more first-team experience at the highest level.
He played just three times in West Brom’s first team during an ill-fated loan stint at the Hawthorns which led to West Brom manager at the time, Tony Pulis declaring him unready to play at this level, a statement that still haunts him till this day.
Arsenal recalled Gnabry from his horrid loan spell six months later but in the summer of 2016 the winger was sold for just £4.5million to Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen much to the disappointment of majority of the Arsenal fans.
A move that looked like a step down turned out to be his best career decision as he scored 11 goals in 27 appearances for Werder Bremen in his only season there.
His performances attracted Bayern Munich who then snapped him up for just £7m and then immediately sent him out on loan to work under Julian Nagelsmann – one of Europe’s most exciting young managers – at Hoffenheim, where he was deployed through the middle in a versatile system.
He dazzled in Hoffenheim blue and the club attempted to sign him permanently or at least get another loan deal, but Bayern stood their ground, they had clearly been impressed by what they saw in his two years of German football and decided to give him a chance.
His Bayern career started slowly and he even failed to score until November, but it was in the second half of the season that he shone like a million stars.
He ended the season with an impressive tally of 13 goals and nine assists in 42 appearances across all competitions as Bayern went on to lift their seventh Bundesliga title in a row.
He was also named Bayern’s Player of the Season, just four years after Tony Pulis said he wasn’t good enough to play for West Brom.
His emergence in Munich brought him to the attentions of Germany manager Joachim Low and he has quickly become one of their most important players at just 24 years of age with a goals record of 9 in 10 games for the national team.
After winning his maiden Bundesliga title, the winger will be desperate to go even bigger and help put Bayern and Germany among the elite again.