Once deemed not “at the level” to play for West Bromwich Albion by manager Tony Pulis, 24-year-old winger Serge Gnabry is now being hailed Germany’s “best player”. Born in Stuttgart to an Ivorian father and a German mother, Gnabry represented a number of German youth teams before joining Arsenal’s under-18s in 2011. After several appearances for Arsenal’s first team from 2012-2014, Gnabry suffered a knee injury that ruled him out for much of the 2014-15 season. Gnabry joined West Brom in August 2015 on a season-long loan to gain first-team experience but was recalled in January after making only one appearance for the side. He spent a season at Werder Bremen in 2016-17 (where he scored 11 goals in 27 games) and embarked on a season-long loan to 1899 Hoffenheim during the 2017-18 season (during which he scored 10 goals in 22 matches) before being officially presented as a Bayern Munich player for the 2018-19 season.
Throughout his time at Bayern, Gnabry has been used in multiple attacking positions, often in support of Robert Lewandowski. Bayern often plays in either a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-3-3 formation, leaving Gnabry able to support the lone striker on the attack. His role is similar to that of former Bayern star Arjen Robben, however Gnabry’s ability to play with both feet allows him to be used effectively on the left and the right side of the pitch when attacking. Gnabry’s ability to make diagonal inside runs additionally creates space for overlapping fullbacks to make runs of their own and increase Bayern’s numbers, further overwhelming opponents’ defenses. Gnabry himself has been widely praised while at Bayern, being dubbed “unplayable” (an adjective saved for players who are seemingly so good that it is impossible for the opposition to stop them from scoring) and beating teammates Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, and Joshua Kimmich to boast the title of Player of the Season in his debut campaign at the club.
A talented sprinter with “exquisite” dribbling skills and equally comfortable with both feet, Gnabry has proved himself invaluable for both club and country. Not only is he a clinical finisher, able to net crucial goals (like his 34’ strike in a European Qualifying match against the Netherlands to put Germany up 2-0 in an eventual 3-2 victory), Gnabry also sees the importance of dropping back to help initiate play, creating chances for both himself and his teammates (including setting up Robert Lewandowski for Bayern’s fifth and final goal in a 5-0 win over Dortmund). It is this combination of effective attacking skills and a commitment to defending that marks Gnabry as one of the key players to watch in the upcoming Euros; he has even been tipped by Germany legend Jurgen Klinsmann to “light up” the tournament.