Miasanrot Awards: Newcomer of the Season 2018/19
Lately the former Gunner had enough arguments too to be named player of the season. However, Robert Lewandowski was a little bit stronger and more consistent this season. Nonetheless the winger, who played unter Julian Nagelsmann in Hoffenheim in 2017/2018, was the surprise of the season.
Even President Uli Hoeneß called Gnabry “the greatest Surprise of the season”. But let’s rewind. Two years ago, when Gnabry was bought by Bayern from Bremen, nobody expected him to be one of the hopes of the Bayern and the DFB team in 2019. Gnabry, who went from VfB Stuttgart to FC Arsenal very early and made his professional debut for them at the age of 17, was written off at some point in England.
Another talent that didn’t make it at Arsenal or anywhere else. Too inconstant and above all too prone to injury.
In the 2013/14 season, the current national player was injured for almost 200 days, his development came to a standstill and at Arsenal they no longer believed in the German. After he was loaned to West Bromwich Albion where he only played 12 minutes, Gnabry went back to Germany, or more precisely to Bremen.
In Bremen, the former Gunner showed strong performances, scored 11 goals in the only season at the Weser and transferred after a successful Olympic Games participation to Bayern. Although coach Carlo Ancelotti had no direct use for him at the time, one can say in retrospect that his loan to Hoffenheim was perfect for him.
Under Nagelsmann Gnabry developed further, as a striker in the 3-5-2 of the TSG he often depended on the right feeling for the space, technically and physically he brought everything to the table, but he lacked the right directions for his runs, as his coach explained:
“In the individual work with him it was a lot about the feeling for the space. […] We took a lot of care of his orientation in space. Where he has to stand, when he has to run free, just to get to the goal in a shorter time. And also to have more actions towards the goal, which don’t fizzle out because he gave away 30, 40 meters of space before.”
Julian Nagelsmann, (former) coach at 1899 Hoffenheim
The further development of his skills without the ball is still helping him at FC Bayern today and is largely responsible for Gnabry’s development into a strong wing player.
Why have I talked about Serge Gnabry’s career so long and wide? Because it’s special. It is not the classical way into professional football and the national team. The fact that Gnabry moved to England when he was 16 years old, only to get all the hype and then crash again just as quickly, make his achievements even more remarkable over the last three years.
How many of the failed talents finally made it somewhere else in a big club? Probably few. This is one of the reasons why the 23-year-old’s season is so outstanding. The will to improve again at Hoffenheim, although he had already signed with Bayern. Not to be satisfied as a supplementary player, but to attack and to work for a permanent spot, testifies to great character and somehow this is the Miasanmia gene, which is always mentioned.
While the two old grandmasters Robben and Ribéry had to fight again and again with injuries and form crises, the young Gnabry was fit and ready. In the system of Niko Kovač the wingman enjoys a lot of freedom, is similar to Kingsley Coman one of the target players and with his dynamics, goal threat and perseverance had a significant part in the many narrow victories, Bayern long struggled with.
While the national player still had some trouble at the beginning, he started especially in the second half of the season. The former Bremen player was one of the best players on the pitch against Liverpool or in his brilliant home win against BVB. A glance at his data reveals some interesting insights into the playing style and the importance of a Serge Gnabry for this year’s champion.
His 16 competitive goals and seven assists already show how dangerous he is. However, Gnabry is not the classic dribbler who immediately pulls the trigger after winning 1vs1s. Rather, Serge always tries to get himself into a good finishing position. Often it’s his movements without the ball that ultimately lead to a good finishing position.
The former Gunner cannot be compared to Kingsley Coman or Arjen Robben. Although Gnabry also has good 1vs1 skills and a good finish, he is far more variable in his movements, is always looking for open spaces and is not only fixated on the sidelines.
This variability paired with his dynamics and his great instinct for the right spaces made him dangerous even in the often unclean positional play of the Reds. In addition to this, he is also eager to work against the ball. The first leg against Liverpool, when Gnabry was one of the best players on the pitch, is a great example.
For many players, the first successful season is often followed by a decline in the second year. Whether this is to be expected for Serge Gnabry is rather questionable. The national player has already experienced too much and looks like an established player. Nevertheless, he must also take the next step in his development in order to bring FC Bayern forward.
The success rate for his dribblings is not high enough yet. If he gets his way even more frequently through the outside, Bayern will have fewer problems, especially against lesser opponents. However, Gnabry can only influence this to a limited extent. If Niko Kovač does not manage to improve the play in possession of the ball, Serge Gnabry will also have a hard time.
However, the international, whose goal against the Netherlands in a direct duel with Virgil van Dijk was a particular eye-catcher, has the chance to change roles by changing the system. Because if Niko Kovač were to bet on a 3-5-2 next season, Gnabry would be the ideal partner for Robert Lewandowski.
All in all, Serge Gnabry will continue his journey. He’s had to bite his way through so many times in his career that he won’t stop. And in this sense, congratulations to the surprise of the season. Chosen by the Bayern fans as player of the season, at Miasanrot the newcomer of the season – Serge Gnabry.