Bayern Munich attacker Serge Gnabry has been crowned the Bundesliga's Player of the Month for October, finishing ahead of Benjamin Hübner, Filip Kostic, Robert Lewandowski, Goncalo Paciencia and William in the vote. The award, created by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga in cooperation with the Bundesliga’s official licensing partner, EA SPORTS FIFA 20, is decided through a two-stage selection process that considers both the players' individual performance data and a vote by fans and experts.
"His ability is the envy of the rest of the Bundesliga; his shooting, excellent pace, outstanding dribbling skills – and he's a top person too," said Bayern coach Niko Kovac at the start of October about Serge Gnabry. "But I still believe he can get better." Those final words appear to have struck a chord with the Germany international, who has raised the bar even further, delivering more and more top performances and becoming one of the record champions' MVPs in October.
Matchday 8 was a particularly superlative one for the 24-year-old. In Bayern's 2-2 draw with Bavarian rivals Augsburg, the winger was involved in both of Bayern's goals, setting up the first and scoring the second. Across the entire Bundesliga, the Stuttgart-born winger was involved in the most efforts on goal in October (24), including 14 shots of his own. Only teammate Robert Lewandowski managed two extra strikes on goal – thanks to the assists Gnabry supplied.
Watch: Gnabry, October Player of the Month
The other nominees
Benjamin Hübner must be quite a popular figure in the Hoffenheim dressing room. Ahead of the Sinsheimers' Matchday 9 clash with Hertha Berlin, the coaching staff dangled a tasty carrot in front of the team, with Alfred Schreuder and Co. vowing to pay for a night out in return for a third straight win. The plan came off with Hoffenheim running out 3-2 winners to pick up another three points, thanks in no small part to central defender Hübner, whose header in the dying stages secured his side's win and a succulent dinner date, before he sounded a warning for Schreuder and his wallet: "We've got a pretty big appetite."
That's not just when it comes to food either. With three wins in a row, October was an all-round successful month for Hoffenheim, who had previously only won one game all season. Hübner was not just influential in Berlin either: on Matchday 8, the 30-year-old set up the goal which made it 2-0 against Schalke. One goal and one assist is quite a tidy return for a defender who likes to get involved in his side's build-up play, with more passes than any of his teammates (154) and an impressive 90 per cent of those reaching their man. It's fair to say that Hoffenheim's resurgence has Hübner's name written all over it.
Tireless, lightning fast, a team player – all three apply to Filip Kostic. The Serbian has continued to impress for Eintracht Frankfurt this season, thanks to a tactical tweak by Adi Hütter designed to bring the very best out of the 26-year-old – and it worked. Now arguably one of the most effective wing-backs the Bundesliga has seen, Kostic looks back fondly on Hütter's moment of inspiration one year ago. "It's now my favourite position," Kostic told the Frankfurter Rundschau recently. That's not surprising, since the Serbia international seems to be tailor made for the role, rampaging with authority down the wing. "The way he imposes himself, uses his body and marches up and down the touchline – it's rather impressive," Hütter said.
Pace and determination are not all Kostic brings to the table, though. In October, the wing-back provided the most key passes leading to a shot on goal in the Bundesliga (15), and in Frankfurt's 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen, one of those became an assist. He also had seven shots in October and while he may not have found the back of the net, only Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski were involved in more attempts on goal than the 22 Kostic contributed to throughout the month of October. Hütter got it right – that is rather impressive.
Robert Lewandowski just does not stop scoring. In three Bundesliga games in October, the prolific Pole topped up his tally to the tune of three more goals, making more history in the process. On Matchday 9, the 30-year-old broke a Bundesliga record by becoming the first player in history to find the back of the net in each of the first nine games of the season. "I'm feeling incredibly good," Lewandowski said after Bayern's win over Union Berlin on Matchday 9. "It's quite a special record and I'm very proud of it."
The fact that Lewandowski had more shots than any other player in the Bundesliga in October almost gets lost among all the other records the Pole continues to set, almost on a weekly basis. With 13 goals to his name already this season, Lewandowski is "in the form of his life, and he's physically in peak condition," according to his coach Niko Kovac. "He wants to get as much as possible right in training and he's thought of very highly within the club and by the fans." One other record Lewandowski is now in pursuit of is the 40 goals in a single season achieved only once before, by Gerd Müller in 1971/72. "If he remains fit, then I think he really has got what it takes [to break the record]," added Kovac. If October was anything to go by, Müller's seemingly rock-solid record has never looked so insecure.
Last season, Goncalo Paciencia stood in the shadows of giants at Eintracht Frankfurt, obscured by the triumvirate formed of Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastian Haller which was the envy of Europe. Now, though, the Portuguese is ensuring the initial sadness in losing three such high-calibre players is making way for excitement, and his first Bundesliga brace in the Matchday 8 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen has elevated the 25-year-old to a new status – those two goals were already two thirds of his haul for the whole of 2018/19, in just 90 minutes. Overall in October, Paciencia underlined his hunger for goals, with only Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry taking aim more often than the Eintracht forward (13) – and only the Bayern duo played a part in more shots than Paciencia (22).
With five goals so far this season, Paciencia is Frankfurt's most lethal weapon, while he also has one assist to his name this term. Speaking to the FAZ newspaper, Paciencia explained his form transformation: "I'm feeling fitter now than I've ever felt in my career," he said. "And I feel right at home with Eintracht. I'm enjoying every day, in spite of the hard work." Hütter, meanwhile, can feel justified at placing his faith in the Portuguese forward despite calls for investment over the summer. "Paciencia's a born goalscorer," he said. "He can score goals at any time, from anywhere." Frankfurt's No39 is proving that prolifically.
After nine games of the season, Wolfsburg are the only club from Europe's top five leagues, together with Italy's Juventus, yet to have tasted defeat. To boast such a brilliant record, you need solid foundations and in Brazilian full-back Willian, the Wolves have exactly that. The 24-year-old completed the full 90 minutes in all three of Wolfsburg's fixtures in October, helping them keep things so tight at the back, they conceded only once. His contribution in building up from the back ensured his influence in Wolfsburg's purple patch has not only caught the eye in a purely defensive optic, however.
The right full-back was on the ball more than any other Wolfsburg player in October (216 times) and with ten shots on goal, he was also one of their most dangerous attacking outlets. In fact, across the entire Bundesliga, only five players had more efforts on goal – and they were all strikers. In Wolfsburg's 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig, William also set up the equaliser, and as a result he had a hand in half of the Wolves' goals in October. "The team's putting in so much effort and they're running so much, with so many sprints," said coach Oliver Glasner, praising the work-rate of his team. "They always believe in what they can do, and this is helping us to win games." Perhaps none more so than William.
Amine Harit (September 2019)
Robert Lewandowski (August 2019)
Kai Havertz (May 2019)
Kai Havertz (April 2019)
Max Kruse (March 2019)
Julian Brandt (February 2019)
Leon Goretzka (January 2019)
Marco Reus (December 2018)
Marco Reus (November 2018)
Jadon Sancho (October 2018)
Marco Reus (September 2018)