Bayern Munich may have signed former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry as a striker after his 11-goal season at Werder Bremen, but now on loan at Hoffenheim, the 22-year-old is beginning to shine as a right-back under Julian Nagelsmann.
Joshua Kimmich has bolted down the right-back spot for Germany since Philipp Lahm retired, and while it might be premature to suggest that Gnabry could provide cover in the position at international level, the twice-capped player has certainly been shining in a much deeper role in recent weeks.
“I think he can do it,” said Nagelsmann after Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Mainz, in which Gnabry assisted the first goal for Adam Szalai. “I see great potential in his future. It’s always good when a player is multi-faceted and can play several positions. He has a lot of room for his pace, especially from deeper positions.”
Watch: How many right-backs can score goals like this stunner from Gnabry against RB Leipzig?
Gnabry also started at right-wing back in the 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin last Saturday, making it consecutive weeks that he has kept Pavel Kaderabek – a Czech Republic international in the position – on the bench. Gnabry has averaged a team-high 34 sprints across the two games in question, and Nagelsmann is convinced of his decision.
“He’s not a merciless killer in front of goal,” explained the coach, who celebrated his two-year anniversary at the Sinsheimer’s helm on Sunday. “He’s a mixture of a taker and a maker who can start moves, so it’s ideal not having him right up front.”
Gnabry had a direct hand in a goal every 164 minutes for Bremen last term, and has scored three in his two games for Germany, but he’s open to changing his game in the longer term.
“I’m a player who prefers attacking and has offensive qualities,” he said. “But if the coach puts me at right-back it’s clearly because he’s given it some thought. He will have a plan.”