Serge Gnabry has named seven of his current Bayern Munich teammates among his Dream XI of the best he’s ever played with, including Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Alphonso Davies and more in his side.
The 25-year-old has had hundreds of teammates to date from his time at Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim, Bayern and Germany, and humbly excluded himself from the side when asked to whittle a selection down by online football platform Foobtaller.
Recently crowned as the Best FIFA Goalkeeper for 2020 and still going strong at 35, Neuer is arguably the best ever to have played in the position, revolutionising goalkeeping with his ‘sweeper-keeper’ playing style.
“There’s no debate here,” said Gnabry. “Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper I’ve ever played with. He keeps out everything that comes his way and in training I sometimes struggle to score past him. The last two years I’ve been playing with him have been unbelievable and he really helped us to win the Champions League and the treble.”
Watch: Neuer under the tactical microscope
At right-back, Gnabry opted for former Arsenal teammate Hector Bellerin due to his “unbelievable speed,” and because he “gives lots of assists”, while he picked another ex-Arsenal defender in Laurent Koscielny as his right-sided centre-back because “he’s a machine in the tackle.”
He would form one half of a formidable partnership with current Bayern central defender Niklas Süle. “NS4, half man, half beast,” Gnabry said of his fellow Germany international, who has also operated at right-back several times for Bayern in 2020/21.
“He’s incredibly quick for someone of his size. He doesn’t give the opposition anything at the back, you can always rely on him and his build-up play is good: he can play some nice diagonal passes or through-balls. He’s got a lot of quality, not only in terms of defending.”
Rounding out the defence at left-back is Alphonso Davies, whose rise to the top has seen him keep 2018 World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez out of the side. “Similar to Bellerin, his speed is amazing,” said Gnabry. “He had a fantastic year last year, had some brilliant games, and he’s a big player with a huge future and huge potential.”
Watch: Alphonso Davies - Bayern Munich's two-world star
Tidying up in front of the defence, Gnabry had no hesitation in picking Bayern’s No.6. “Without doubt, Joshua Kimmich,” he said of a player whose influence on Bayern has been as striking as it is noticeable: Flick’s side have conceded a goal every 105 minutes on average with him in the side, but every 41 minutes without him.
“In my opinion he’s similar to Xavi in that he’s a very intelligent player,” Gnabry continued. “He reads the game really well, has an incredible will to win and he always drives the team on.”
He would be joined in the team by another ex-Arsenal man Santi Cazorla, who Gnabry said “was two-footed; he was unreal on his left and his right”.
Watch: Kimmich the midfield boss
Filling the No.10 playmaker position would be former Germany international and Schalke academy graduate Mesut Özil, now of Fenerbahce.
“As a fellow attacker, I really appreciate the qualities he has on the ball,” Gnabry said. “I appreciate his eye for his teammates and how dangerous he is in front of goal. But it’s the through-balls he can play that just do it for me. I’d have him as a No.10”
He would be flanked by Gnabry’s two main rivals for a place in Flick’s starting line-up this term. “On the left I’d have Leroy Sane. He’s got pace, can dribble, can shoot. What more can I say? He’s unbelievable.” With nine assists and four goals across 24 Bundesliga outings so far in what is his debut season at Bayern, it’s easy to see why the 25-year-old makes the cut.
“On the right, Kingsley Coman,” Gnabry continued. “There’s nobody else that can dribble like him. When you see the turns he does. He’s horrible for defenders to play against.” The Frenchman’s nine assists and three league goals in just 21 appearances tell their own story.
Watch: Bayern's world-class stable of wingers
Guess who? “Up front we have Robert LewanGoalski, goal machine. 50 goals or whatever it is he’s got. Enough said.” Quite.
Watch: Lewandowski's race to 40 goals
With 35 Bundesliga goals to his name already this season and on course to break Gerd Müller’s 40-goal single-season haul, the Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2020 is simply the unplayable right now.