Timo Werner has long been touted as the natural successor to Miroslav Klose as Germany’s No. 9, but recently it has been Bayern Munich wide man Serge Gnabry delivering the goods when spearheading Die Mannschaft’s attack.
“But Gnabry is a winger,” bundesliga.com hears you say. “At least an attacking midfielder?” For Bayern, that has certainly been the case this season, with the 23-year-old coming in on the left of Niko Kovac’s preferred 4-1-4-1 formation. Werner leads the line for RB Leipzig, but when it comes to Germany, their roles are reversed.
Gnabry is often the focal point of the attack, with Werner and Manchester City’s Leroy Sane operating either side of him to complete a mobile front three. During the November international break, Gnabry — from a central position — proved his country's most potent attacking force, laying on the opener for Sane before completing the scoring in a 3-0 win over Russia; his flick on Toni Kroos' ball allowed Werner to net Germany's first in the 2-2 UEFA Nations League draw with the Netherlands that followed.
His strike against the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts was Gnabry’s fourth in his first four games for Germany, twice as many as Klose – a player who ended his Mannschaft career with a national record 71 – managed in the same time.
Gnabry was quick to pay tribute to Kai Havertz for laying on the through-ball for his latest Germany strike. “Kai’s pass for my goal was awesome,” he said. “He has a great eye for that.”
That it was Gnabry who raced onto the end of the Bayer Leverkusen man’s assist is thanks in no small part to his natural athleticism, a trait he shares with the rocket-propelled Werner.
The former Hoffenheim manhas been clocked at 21.6 miles per hour at full pelt, but it’s his ability to reach those speeds so quickly that makes him such an asset playing on the shoulder of the last defender.
“It’s thanks to my anatomy that I can run so fast,” he explained before the game, simultaneously laughing off suggestions his footballing ability might be attributable to his father Jean-Hermann, who — despite reports to the contrary — never turned out as a professional, let alone for his native Cote d’Ivoire.
Watch: The best of Gnabry's 22 Bundesliga goals to date?
"I don't know where these rumours about him came from," he once told bundesliga.com. "It’s just a lie. We could leave that honour with him, but it’s just not true!"
What was true was the left-foot strike Gnabry applied to Havertz's pass, providing further evidence to back up Joachim Löw's belief that the former Arsenal man has the complete centre-forward’s tool kit in his armory.
“If he continues like this he’ll be an extremely important player for the national team in the future,” the Germany coach beamed following Gnabry’s impressive showing in Der Klassiker. But as Russia and the Dutch can attest, Gnabry is already turning tomorrow into today.