This talented, and highly rated, winger has the potential to be a key player for Arsenal, but how can Serge Gnabry break into the first team for next season after recovering from injury?
The 19-year-old German has been on Wenger’s development programme for a while now, but Arsenal fans haven’t seen as much as they would have hoped from him yet.
Having signed his professional contract in the summer of 2012, Gnabry made his Arsenal debut in the thrilling 7-5 League Cup victory away to Reading. The pacey winger scored his first, and only, Arsenal goal during their Premier League match away at The Liberty Stadium, where Arsenal recorded a 2-1 win in September 2013. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger claims he is able to play anywhere amongst the attacking positions, but so far he has only been used as a winger.
How is this bright prospect going to thrive at Arsenal? Firstly, he must stay injury free. His career has been put on standby for the past season as a result of suffering a severe knee injury. Gnabry hasn’t featured all season long for the first team; his last appearance came in a Champions League Round of 16 tie versus Bayern Munich in March 2014. Injuries always seem to be a major problem at Arsenal, and Gnabry hasn’t been able to avoid the issue. His return for next season seems likely as he has featured several times for the U21 side in recent weeks.
However, the biggest problem for Gnabry is competition for places; Arsenal have a plethora of attacking midfielders and are spoilt for choice in this department. His main rivals are the wingers in the team, as that’s where he is most likely to play for Arsenal.
Since signing last summer for £32 million, Alexis Sánchez has been a crucial member of the team. 25 goals and nine assists from the Chilean this season has taken Arsenal to another level, and has helped them retain the FA Cup. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also had a good season when he’s been injury-free; he’d certainly be above Gnabry in the pecking order. Danny Welbeck has been used many times by Wenger this year on the wing and has played well and made an impact when given the opportunity.
Those three will certainly be there next season, but there are others who might not. If one of Arsenal’s wingers were to leave then Gnabry will have a good chance of being a first team regular on the bench, and may start cup games.
The most high profile player to potentially leave is of course Theo Walcott. His hat-trick on the last day of the Premier League season, and his opening goal in the FA Cup Final may have just clinched him a new contract (especially having played through the middle as a striker), but there is still a chance of him leaving.
Lukas Podolski is likely to leave. Having been sent out on loan to Inter Milan in January, there is a very strong chance he will be playing his football elsewhere next season. Galatasaray are also rumoured to be in talks with him, and he is apparently set to undergo a medical.
Costa Rican star of the World Cup last summer, Joel Campbell, may also leave the Gunners in this transfer window. Campbell was loaned out in January to Villarreal to gain, as Wenger put it, some “much needed experience at this level”. Whether or not there is a spot in next year’s squad for him is unclear still.
Gnabry is certainly one to look out for, and he’s likely to play for the first team, but competition for places is likely to hamper his chances next season. If a couple of the players ahead of him leave, then he will definitely be part of Arsenal’s title challenge. However, he won’t be a regular starting player. It’s best for him to go out on loan next season to a good top flight club. He would then gain some experience and hone his skills whilst still developing and maturing. If Arsenal decide to keep hold of him, expect him to play a major role in the club’s success in years to come.