Bayern Munich attacker Serge Gnabry has now scored at least 10 Bundesliga goals for three different clubs in three consecutive seasons. bundesliga.com examines why the Arsenal academy graduate is now one of the deadliest wingers in the league.
Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge know a thing or two about what makes a good attacking player. After all, the Bayern president and CEO scored almost 250 Bundesliga goals between them in their own playing days.
Both have been singing the praises of Gnabry recently, who on Matchday 31 became only the third player in the Bundesliga’s history to hit double figures for three different clubs in consecutive seasons. The 23-year-old got 11 league goals for Werder Bremen in the 2016/17 campaign, 10 while on loan at Hoffenheim in 2017/18, and another 10 (and counting) this season. Only Erwin Kostedde, in the 1970s, and former Bayern striker Jürgen Wegmann, in the 1980s, can boast a similar record.
Watch: Serge Gnabry analysis
Gnabry was sprung from the bench to get a crucial equaliser in the league leaders’ 1-1 draw at Nuremberg last weekend, an intervention that could yet prove key to the defending champions’ title hopes. Before the game, however, Hoeness admitted that he hadn’t been sure if the returning attacker would be an immediate success in Munich.
“We thought ‘OK, we’ll bring him back [from his loan spell] and then we’ll see if he can play every so often,” the Bayern president told German sports magazine kicker.
“Now he’s a regular starter, he’s enjoying himself, and he’s the biggest surprise of the season in a positive sense.”
Gnabry often becomes more prolific in the second half of a campaign, and this one has been no different for the former Arsenal man. Seven of his league goals have come since the turn of the year, while he also got a brace in February’s DFB Cup last-16 victory at Hertha Berlin. Usually operating on the right wing, but well able to do damage from the left, the flexible forward also got on the scoresheet in a nine-goal thriller with Heidenheim in the following round.
With Kingsley Coman also providing a threat from the wing, Rummenigge is confident that the record champions can have a smooth transition when veteran stars Arjen Robben (35) and Franck Ribery (36) leave the club.
“We now have what we need on the wings,” Rummenigge told Munich newspaper tz. “Quick people who take on a dribble and also score goals.”
A two-time Ballon d’Or winner in his playing days, the 1980 UEFA European Championship winner said he moved for Gnabry after being impressed while watching him play for Germany at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We’ve done a good job with it,” he said of how Bayern have managed the in-form attacker. “Serge spent a year in Bremen, a year in Hoffenheim – his style of play has matured.”
Whatever the strategy with Gnabry, it certainly seems to have paid off for both club and country. Along with top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, he is the only Bayern player who has reached double figures in the league this season – chipping in with five assists for good measure.
The Stuttgart native also scored with a brilliant strike in his country’s 3-2 success in the Netherlands to help get their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to an ideal start.
“Super, great,” Germany manager Joachim Löw said of the goal, which saw Gnabry cut off the left before curling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
“Serge played really well – he moved around a huge amount, asserted himself against [Virgil] van Dijk, and used his body well.”
Watch: Gnabry scored a brace against Bremen in December!
Gnabry’s leveller in the Bavarian derby against Nuremberg was another sign of his growing influence. With 13 goals in all competitions for Bayern in 2018/19, he has become a vital part of their double-chasing side.
“I see no limits for him,” Horst Hrubesch, who was Gnabry’s manager when they won silver at the 2016 Olympics, told kicker recently.
“If he stays fit, Bayern will get a lot of joy with him. He's got 15-20 goals a season in him.”
Gnabry could even reach that target this term, since he has now been directly involved in eight goals during his last seven Bundesliga appearances - scoring five and making three. As first seasons at a club go, it’s impressive going. By now, though, most people will have come to expect that of him.