Serge Gnabry cooked up yet another storm with a hat-trick for Bayern Munich on his return to hometown club VfB Stuttgart. - © imago/ DFL
Serge Gnabry cooked up yet another storm with a hat-trick for Bayern Munich on his return to hometown club VfB Stuttgart. - © imago/ DFL
bundesliga

Serge Gnabry: MD16's Man of the Matchday and Bayern Munich’s hat-trick homecoming king

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Serge Gnabry enjoyed a triumphant homecoming away at VfB Stuttgart with a direct hand in all five of Bayern Munich’s goals in the 5-0 win, including a third club hat-trick.

The three-goal haul completes a rather special collection for Gnabry, as he has now scored a hat-trick in every city he has called home for more than a season during his career.

The 26-year-old was born and raised in Stuttgart, spending a good five years in the VfB academy and coming through the same youth teams as the likes of Joshua Kimmich, before being lured to England with Arsenal.

Bayern’s Matchday 16 trip to the Mercedes-Benz Arena was only his third Bundesliga return home and the first time he really put on a show. He scored three and set up two more for Robert Lewandowski as the league leaders guaranteed they would be top at the halfway stage of 2021/22.

Watch: Highlights of Gnabry’s hat-trick and two assists in Stuttgart

“It feels good to play here and I seem to score a lot of goals here,” Gnabry told bundesliga.com after the game. “Unfortunately, the family couldn’t be here today. I think otherwise a lot of people from our family would’ve been here.

“I really wanted to step up because I hadn’t played that much recently. I was motivated but couldn’t have dreamed the game would end up like that.”

Coach Julian Nagelsmann was also full of praise for the player he coached at Hoffenheim and now in Munich: “He can play in different positions. It doesn’t matter whether he plays as a No.10 or No.8, he can play on both wings. That’s perfect for the whole squad because you only need one player for four positions.

“Serge can also finish with his right and left feet, as well as his head. He’s therefore very dangerous in front of the opposition’s goal, and today he defended well too.”

Watch: Gnabry: “I seem to score a lot of goals here”

He got two with his right and one with his left on Tuesday. The first was a sweet curling effort into the far top corner on his right; the second saw him sidestep a defender before placing the ball into the bottom corner on his left; his third was a simple tap-in from close range.

Add in the two assists for Lewandowski and it was only the second time in his club career that Gnabry had registered five goal contributions in a single game.

The first came in another one of his former homes, London. He spent five years on the books at Arsenal, only playing 10 league games as well as enduring a potentially confidence-destroying loan spell at West Bromwich Albion where he played just three times in all competitions.

He left for Werder Bremen in 2016 before Bayern snapped him up, granting him – at his own request – a formative spell under Nagelsmann on loan at Hoffenheim. When he next returned to the British capital in October 2019, he had both sides of the North London divide tearing their hair out – Arsenal fans with regret, Tottenham Hotspur supporters in disbelief.

The Germany international scored four in a devastating second-half spell at Spurs, as well as also teeing up Lewandowski again, as Bayern thrashed the previous season’s finalists 7-2 in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Gnabry had never even scored in the competition before that night, but he marked his return to his adopted home in style as Bayern stormed to a sixth European crown.

His only other club hat-trick came on the opening night of the 2020/21 Bundesliga season, putting three past Schalke in a 8-0 thrashing. That game was at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Gnabry’s home since 2018.

They say home is where the heart is, but for Gnabry it’s where the goal is – and he has many homes.