Gnabry extended: Keep on cooking until 2023

Justin Separator March 6, 2019

It can be seen as a sign of acknowledgment and gratification that Gnabry, who joined the team only this summer, has already agreed to extend the contract, which was originally valid up to 2020. This makes the 23-year-old the fourth player, along with Kimmich, Coman and Davies, to remain on board until at least 2023.

Sporting director Salihamidžić called Gnabry in the press release one of our young wilds and an important component of the future of the FC Bavaria .

Clever career path

That wasn’t always to be expected. Especially in the early stages of his career, Serge Gnabry was mostly under the radar. He never made a real breakthrough. Between 2012 and 2016 he played 18 competitive games for the Gunners.

This time span also shows how long the wing forward has been in business. Instead of exerting too much pressure on himself and entering under too high demands, he patiently and calmly gathered his first experiences in England.

For 5 million Euros he moved from England to the Weser: to Werder Bremen. There, for the first time, Gnabry really drew attention to himself. In 27 games he became one of the key players of the team and scored 13 goals (11 goals, 2 assists). After Kruse he was the best scorer of his team.

Nagelsmann polishes the rough diamond

In Munich at this time Gnabry was noticed for the first time and so it came to a transfer after only one season. Although the then 21-year-old could also convince at the Olympic Games for Germany, the move to the record champion of the Bundesliga did not seem to be logical.

It was too uncertain whether Gnabry was already this far in his development. It was therefore all the more remarkable that the club and player made the right decision to go to Julian Nagelsmann and Hoffenheim on loan. Once again Gnabry proved that he has a good hand for his career plan.

In Sinsheim, too, he developed into one of the team’s key players. Under Nagelsmann, the attacker sharpened his player profile. In his dribblings he became more courageous and in front of the goal he became even more dangerous. Not least because his new coach was able to give him an even better understanding of space. The TSG also knew how to put their attackers in the limelight.

Outstanding second half of the season

In 26 games he scored 10 goals and collected 7 assists. He was involved in a goal every 101 minutes. Especially in the second half of the season Gnabry was one of the best players of the Bundesliga. He collected 14 of his 17 scorer points after the 17th matchday. At this stage, he was directly involved in a Hoffenheim goal every 75 minutes.

For the first time Gnabry indicated that he could have the level for FC Bayern. And so it didn’t take long for the Munich team to announce that he would be an integral part of the squad from the 2018/19 season onwards.

However, not all worries were eliminated. The fitness of the attacker in particular raised doubts as to whether he was really the solution that Coman, Robben and Ribéry, who are already prone to injuries, would need. For Bremen he only missed 6 games, but at Hoffenheim he missed large parts of the first half of the season and 17 games overall.

The big step to FC Bayern

From the perspective of the player you can say in retrospect: Everything done right. At 23, Gnabry is still a young player. But he already has gained more experience than some Bundesliga players with 27 or 28.

He has also played in all youth national teams since the Under-16s and now has 5 international matches (4 goals). Instead of going to a big club too quickly after the time in London, Gnabry decided to go the longer way via Bremen and Hoffenheim.

Slowly he increased the requirements and the pressure he had to withstand. In the end, he felt ready to make the big step to FC Bayern.

Initial problems

At the beginning of the season it still looked as if Gnabry needed a longer start-up time. In principle, he would not have been to blame for that either, but the hopes are always huge, especially in Munich, when a young player comes to the Isar.

In the first 9 Bundesliga games, Gnabry was not on the pitch for the full distance once. Although Kingsley Coman was seriously injured early on. A single scorer point was on his account at this time. From the 10th matchday against Freiburg, however, the knot seemed to finally burst.

Benefiting from a crisis in his team’s results and some injuries on his position, Gnabry increasingly advanced to become the squad’s most important wingman. Since then, he has been directly involved in a goal every 96 minutes. And this despite the fact that he still plays hardly any games over the full distance. Gnabry had his strongest period in November and December. 7 scorer points in 8 competitive games – 7 times he was at least 60 minutes on the pitch.

With rhythm to the regular?

Currently Ribéry and Robben are sidelined because of their injuries. Coman is also far away from a good rhythm due to his fragility. It is the chance for Serge Gnabry to take another step forward. In Hoffenheim, he showed that he has the potential to hover above most Bundesliga players.

That’s why he needs fitness and minutes. Finally he came back to regular use over longer distances. Result: goals against Schalke and Gladbach, a brace in the cup against Hertha, a more than decent appearance in Liverpool – both in attack and defence.

Gnabry creates fun and he has indicated to the doubters that he can create great added value for FC Bayern. His drive to the goal and his courage in the dribblings are remarkable. Hardly any player goes so often directly at his defender without stopping or drifting to the outside. This directness knows how to inspire.

Always room for improvement

If Gnabry were to win even more dribblings now, he’d be the perfect mix of Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben. While the Frenchman still has something ahead of him in his agility and dynamics, Robben is still a bit deadlier in front of the goal.

Gnabry must find a way to radiate even more danger on his own. But when he works his way through the spaces and gets into good finishing situations, he’s one of the most dangerous players in the squad. With his 8 goals in all competitions he stands behind Robert Lewandowski. His 0.66 xG + xA per 90 minutes (expected goals and expected assists together, i.e. the expected goal participations per 90 minutes) are still expandable.

But if he takes the next step, he can finally fulfill a task that Thomas Müller can no longer solve on his own: To minimize the dependence on Lewandowski. But Serge Gnabry has absolutely earned the early renewal of his contract. If he stays fit and can then improve even further, he is a future top performer in the squad of FC Bayern Munich.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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