Serge Gnabry: Player Profile

The Rise Of Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry

Personal information
Full name: Serge David Gnabry
Date of birth: 14 July 1995 (age 18)
Place of birth: Stuttgart, Germany
Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position: Midfielder / Winger

Club information
Current club: Arsenal
Number: 44

Youth career
2006–2011 VfB Stuttgart
2011–2012 Arsenal

Senior career
2012– Arsenal 15 Appearances, 1 Goal

National team
2010–2011 Germany U16 5 Appearances, 1 Goal
2011–2012 Germany U17 12 Appearances, 3 Goals
2012– Germany U18 2 Appearances, 3 Goals
2013– Germany U19 5 Appearances, 3 Goals

Serge Gnabry has burst onto the scene at Arsenal this season, going from an exciting hopeful to a trusted member of the first-team squad.

Having established himself as a key player in Arsenal’s under-21 side, the ex-VfB Stuttgart youngster was handed his first-team debut as a substitute in the 6-1 win over Coventry City in the 2012/13 Capital One Cup.

He proceeded to make his Premier League bow in a 1-0 league defeat at Norwich City in October 2012, and also came off the bench in a Champions League tie against Schalke at Emirates Stadium four days later.

The forward, who is equally at home anywhere across the front line, made his full debut in the memorable 7-5 League Cup victory away at Reading.

Having signed his first professional contract with the club in the summer of 2012, the following year he was part of the first team’s tour to Asia, and featured heavily out in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan.

He also played in the Emirates Cup against Napoli.

Gnabry has also made an impact at international level, featuring frequently for the German youth sides from under-16 to under-19 levels.

He scored two fine goals for the under-18s against France in March 2013, and has been tipped for an under-21 call-up if his rapid progress at Arsenal continues apace.

September 2013 was a breakthrough month for Serge as the forward scored his first senior goal for the Gunners in the 2-1 win over Swansea. T

he German also played 120 minutes in the Capital One Cup game against West Brom.

As one World Cup door closes abruptly, the handle twitches on another.

Theo Walcott may be absorbing the blow of a tournament lost, but for Serge Gnabry the opportunity to force an unexpected route to Brazil has widened.

He is enjoying a breakthrough season which promises more action in the weeks ahead and the 18-year-old German has been tipped by Arsene Wenger to make his nation's World Cup squad.

"There is more than a small chance. There's a big chance," notes his club manager.

Such an idea might resonate uneasily for those who never felt comfortable with Walcott's inclusion in the party for the 2006 World Cup as a 17-year-old, with no Premier League experience.

As it happens, Joachim Low has been monitoring Gnabry, and likes what he sees sufficiently to say he remains "open" to considering him for a promotion to the national team's elite squad.

There is some suggestion that the Ivory Coast are keen to cap him in time for Brazil (he has an Ivorian father and German mother), which adds a potential twist to the situation.

Surely it would still require a Gnabry-shaped explosion in north London during the rest of the season to force his way into Low's World Cup plans.

The chance for the young German to shine more frequently than planned has opened up with Walcott's crucial injury.

Gnabry, a gifted sprinter who says he never lost a race in his youth, is the player best equipped to replace Walcott's pace for Arsenal.

Wenger was keen for restraint when discussing the boy's talent after he excelled with a blend of speed and composure in Arsenal's victory over Tottenham in the FA Cup.

"Let's not make superstars with one game," he cautioned.

But a few days down the line, he felt able to expand on what Gnabry is capable of.

"He has a lot in the locker," says Wenger.

"We are looking at a guy who has great pace, good individual talent, can pass people, is a good finisher with his right and left as he is two-footed, and he has a very good football brain, with good vision."

The list is so exhaustive it is hard to figure out areas of weakness.

Inconsistency comes with the territory for young players finding their way in the game.

Wenger hopes that he can find the right balance between giving Gnabry the game-time to flourish while reducing pressure by using him carefully.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey are all options for the right-hand side of the attack vacated by Walcott, so Gnabry need not be over-burdened by responsibilities.

Nevertheless, he will have chances and is eager to seize them.

His progress has accelerated fast since he arrived at Arsenal in 2011.

Gnabry, who had been with VfB Stuttgart since boyhood, was spotted by Arsenal's scout in the region and was invited to a trial at the age of 15.

He blossomed, and at the end of the week played in an under-16s match at Charlton where his display confirmed the hunches that Arsenal were on to something.

Then came the difficult part of dealing with his hometown club, who were not exactly enthusiastic to see him go.

As a free agent, Gnabry was allowed to make what is always a momentous decision, to uproot and relocate overseas.

It helped that he spoke excellent English even before he packed his bags, and that his family accompanied him to London, where they set up a new home.

The business of prising teenage footballers away from their home nations remains a contentious one.

Whatever the compensation, no club is content to hand over an asset they have been polishing.

Wenger always considers any disagreements are generally worth having.

When it works – as it did to memorable effect with Nicolas Anelka and Cesc Fabregas despite Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona expressing their frustrations – Wenger is only too ready to play talent he regards as brilliant beyond its years.

Gnabry has the benefit of a large German community at his club to give him extra back-up.

Training alongside Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker ensures that he has plenty of experienced players on hand to guide him during a critical moment of his career.

Gnabry is at a delicate stage where he is trying to leap from fringe to establishment and so far he has lived up to the Arsenal’s expectations.