- Joins Bremen after five years with Arsenal.
- Says Mertesacker and Özil helped persuade him.
- Germany's top scorer at Rio 2016.
It is surely no secret that Serge Gnabry has all the makings of a top Bundesliga player. The 21-year-old has just signed for SV Werder Bremen from Arsenal FC and after five years in England, he is ready to make good on his promise having impressed throughout his fledgling career. bundesliga.com puts the Germany U-21 midfielder under the microscope.
Growing up in Stuttgart, Gnabry's football skills were soon recognised by local club TSV Weissach. It was perhaps little surprise that he would be drawn towards the game given that his father, Jean-Hermann played professionally in the Cote D'Ivoire. Gnabry, born on 14 July 1995, was already making a real impact, playing in the Baden-Württemberg state capital.
It was not long before scouts from Stuttgarter Kickers spotted him and the prodigious talent was snapped up for their youth programme. When local rivals VfB Stuttgart came calling for the talented winger, he could not resist the chance to join the Bundesliga giants. He was playing for the Germany U-16 team as well as in the U-17 Bundesliga and suddenly the world was sitting up and taking notice. Arsenal quickly expressed their interest in signing the 15-year-old Gnabry, and his move to London and the English Premier League went through in 2011.
Gnabry was originally only supposed to play for the U-18s but such was his talent and the level of the performances in his first season at Arsenal that he was promoted to the reserve team. In the next campaign, 2012/13, he was rewarded for his progress with some first-team outings, including an appearance as a substitute against FC Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League having made his debut at the age of only 17.
He was given even more first-team chances by Arsene Wenger in 2013/14, when he scored his only Premier League goal, against Swansea City AFC. However, just as it seemed that he was making real progress, in March 2014 he suffered a serious knee injury playing in a 1-1 Champions League draw at FC Bayern München. He was out of the game for more than six months - an abrupt end to his Arsenal career as he would not make another appearance for the club.
Last season Wenger loaned him out to Premier League West Bromwich Albion FC as Gnabry looked to nail down a place in Germany's squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. But, even at The Hawthorns, where he had been expected to walk into the Baggies team, he could not force his way into Tony Pulis' thinking, making only two starts in the League Cup.
Six Olympic goals
Playing for Germany has always been very important for Gnabry. Capped at every level between U-16 and U-21, there was never any question that Germany U21 coach Horst Hrubesch could call him up to Germany's Olympic team this summer, despite a disappointing final season in England.
Gnabry lit up the stadia of Brazil, scoring six goals in six games to inspire Germany's run to the gold medal match. He was accordingly named as Germany's player of the tournament in which they won silver, just missing out on the title on penalties.
His performances provoked a lot of interest from Bundesliga clubs looking to bring back one of the brightest young German talents in the game and it was Bremen who won the race for his signature. "I'm really happy to be here," he said. "I see a lot of potential, especially in their attacking play."
That Gnabry chose Bremen was actually down to two former Bundesliga stars playing at Arsenal, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil, who spoke in glowing terms about the club. "Per and Mesut have only said positive things about the club," he said. "But it was my decision alone in the end to come here. I had very good talks with the management. I've come to get playing time, to develop further and to help the team."
Werder were beaten 6-0 by Bayern in their opening game of the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign, but Gnabry sees no reason to be concerned. "I'm confident we'll have a successful season and push for the top half of the table."