With most of the attention focused on Theo Walcott’s anticipated return from lengthy injury, Serge Gnabry’s own comeback from injury has managed to fly under the radar. The 19-year-old German youth international has not featured for Arsenal since last season’s 1-1 draw away to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on March 12. Gnabry’s knee injury is interesting because he has not had to recover from major surgery, yet has missed the last seven months of action.
Although Walcott is presumably more essential to the Gunners than Gnabry at this point of the two players’ careers, there is no doubting Gnabry’s talent and potential to become a star on the pitch. The “German Bulldog” possesses pace, quick feet, and a powerful right foot. Gnabry has mostly been utilized out on the right flank for the Gunners, although he can also be deployed in the No. 10 role or even as a forward (as Arsene Wenger likes his finishing abilities).
The 19-year-old is yet another example of how well Arsenal and Wenger assess talent and develop young players. The youngster was bought by the Gunners from Stuttgart in 2010 for just around $160,000 (although he had to wait on the London switch until 2011, when he turned 16). Over the last 14 years of Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, the Frenchman has managed to spend a grand total of £9m on a group of nine raw youngsters including Joel Campbell, Carlos Vela, Alex Song, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, and Kolo Toure.
Gnabry made his senior debut for the Gunners in September of 2012 during a League Cup match against Coventry City, playing the final 15 minutes in the team’s 6-1 demolishing of the League One side. He featured in his first Premier League match a month later and became Arsenal’s third youngest player in league history (only behind Fabregas and Jack Wilshere).
The 2013-14 season was the German’s introduction to the world. Gnabry featured in 14 total matches for the Gunners during last year’s campaign, before ultimately missing out on the final two months of the season due to the aforementioned knee injury. Nonetheless, following a string of five impressive performances during September and October of 2013, Gnabry was quickly rewarded with a fresh five-year contract with the Gunners.
With Arsenal’s recent team injury concerns (the Gunners are currently sitting at 11 total injuries at the moment), Gnabry’s time to shine may come a little sooner than expected. Whenever Gnabry makes his return to the Arsenal side (it will most likely be another week or two), Arsenal fans should be excited and relieved over some positive injury news for a change.
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