Serge Gnabry has unexpectedly developed into one of Bayern Munich’s most important players over the last few months of the campaign. The former Arsenal outcast took a circuitous route to the Bavarian capital via North London, Bremen and Hoffenheim before settling in with the Rekordmeister.
Now that the young German has established himself in Niko Kovac’s first choice XI, it is hard to believe he was once considered surplus to Arsene Wenger’s requirements at Arsenal. Although it did not quite work out in England, the young German believed the move was the right one. In an interview with Bundesliga.com (via SportBild), the VFB Stuttgart youth product explained why he made the trip across the channel.
I wanted to take the risk. Everyone said to me that I wouldn’t make it, because it’d be too hard in England and a different kind of soccer is played there. I still thought, though, that Arsenal was a great club for me. Arsene Wenger gave young players a chance and had them play a kind of soccer that I liked. Offensive with lots of possession.
With hindsight, this move likely paid off for the German international. Although he did not quite make the breakthrough with the Gunners, the creativity and attacking fluidity of Wenger’s approach clearly rubbed off on Gnabry.
A year under Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim refined his attacking prowess, but Gnabry’s development has continued at a rapid rate at the Säbener Strasse. The crafty play maker has credited this, in part, to the veteran leadership of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
Both are magnificent characters and magnificent players. You can learn a lot from them. They have played ten to twelve years on an elite level – that’s also my goal. Both always want to win. You can feel their passion. It’s their last season, and they’re not the youngest anymore. But they haven’t lost their passion.
The example provided by the two grizzled veterans has helped Gnabry to understand what is necessary to not only make it, but sustain greatness at the highest level.
With nine goals and four assists across all competitions this campaign, Gnabry has provided a much-needed second scoring option, in addition to offering quality service for Robert Lewandowski. His ability to play across the front three, as well as his creativity and dynamism in attack has been a driving force for Bayern and the Nationalmannschaft of late.
Gnabry will be pivotal in the upcoming match up with first-place Borussia Dortmund and he may even find himself in a position to win Bayern their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title. In the closest title race German football has seen in a decade, Gnabry is ready to claim his first Meisterschale.
We’re going into the game with a positive feeling, because we already caught up to a nine-point lead. We’re confident, especially since BVB also has slipped up a few times. At lot is at stake in the game for both teams. We want to show them that we want to be champions this year.
However, this does not mean the former Arsenal man is taking the challenge lightly.
There’s a rivalry between the two teams. Dortmund is the second team in Germany that consistently has good years behind it. It’s the biggest game of the whole season, and people are looking forward to it, with all the excitement that surrounds the duel.
Bayern sit two points behind their Klassiker rivals, yet their destiny remains fully in their own hands. With all the excitement and pressure associated with such a match up, Gnabry just might need to resort to a hobby to ease the tension ahead of the titanic clash.
The 23-year-old wideman has taken up the piano as a means challenge himself off the training pitch. In addition to his love of fashion, Gnabry has found the piano similar to football in a few ways.
I’m not as good with my hands as with my feet. But you can compare it: when you learn a new piece or get the feeling for playing a new keyboard combination, it’s similar to soccer. In training, you get a boost when you do something really good, and it’s similar with the piano when you improve.
You just have to love that competitive spirit!