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From 'not being at the level to play games' under Tony Pulis at West Brom to being sold by Arsenal for just £4.5m: How Serge Gnabry beat the odds to become a star man for giants Bayern Munich and Germany

The winger endured a nightmare loan spell at West Brom while at ArsenalHe has now become one of the most exciting players around for Bayern Munich Serge Gnabry's path to the top echelons has been a long and difficult journeyArsenal sold the German to Werder Bremen for just £4.5million back in 2016

It is fair to say that Serge Gnabry's path to the top echelons of football hasn't been the easiest of journeys.

After starting out in Arsenal's youth teams, the winger's potential was there for all to see. But whether he could develop his rawness into greatness remained in doubt.

Arsenal's academy was renowned for being one of the best for developing youngsters' games and with Gnabry starting out his career at the club in 2011, there was hope he could force his way into first-team plans.

From 'not being at the level to play games' under Tony Pulis at West Brom to being sold by Arsenal for just £4.5m: How Serge Gnabry beat the odds to become a star man for giants Bayern Munich and Germany

Serge Gnabry announced himself on the scene at Arsenal against rivals Tottenham in FA Cup

The German youngster came up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in 2014


Bayern Munich

Appearances: 45

Goals: 13

Assists: 11

Honours: Bundesliga 2019, German Cup 2019


Appearances: 10

Goals: 9

Assists: 1

And after just one season in the academy, those hopes turned into reality when he made his first-team debut against Coventry in the League Cup in September 2012.

Premier League and Champions League bows followed in the same season for the hugely exciting prospect, becoming Arsenal's second-youngest player in the English top flight to make his debut after Jack Wilshere.

But it was the 2013-14 season when he really came of age and he couldn't announce himself on the scene in north London any better.

In January 2014, Arsenal met fierce rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup and Arsene Wenger took a gamble by throwing Gnabry straight into the deep end by naming him in his starting XI.

The decision emphatically paid off as Wenger left out star names against Spurs, including Gnabry's fellow Germans Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker.

After nearly opening the scoring in the third-round fixture, the 19-year-old was instrumental in the opener, laying a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Santi Cazorla, who had no need to break his stride before slotting home.

Despite the massive occasion and sense of anticipation leading up to the game, Gnabry didn't look remotely overawed - attacking with verve and zeal from the off during the 2-0 victory.

Gnabry endured a nightmare loan spell at West Brom, featuring just three times

Tony Pulis claimed Gnabry was not at the level required to play for West Brom's first-team

Arsenal fans finally thought they had found a winger to get them off their seats and after his impressive start to the season, he was rewarded with a new five-year contract as the Gunners looked to the future.

But what followed, started a roller-coaster chapter of what could have been. Gnabry missed most of the 2014-15 campaign with a serious knee injury, which kept him away for over a year.

And it started a downward spiral in his short career as the youngster was eventually sent out on loan to West Brom in August 2015 to gain more first-team experience at the highest level.

However, he played just three times in West Brom's first team.

And it was during the loan stint at the Hawthorns that then-Baggies manager Tony Pulis provided fans with an infamous quote on Gnabry's ability, which has now been immortalised in football.

'Serge has come [to West Brom] to play games but he just hasn't been for me, at the moment, at that level to play the games,' Pulis said. 'He's come from academy football and not played much league football.

'Does academy football really prepare players for league football? And we're talking about Premier League football here.

Arsenal ended up selling Gnabry to Werder Bremen for just £4.5million in the summer of 2016

Bayern Munich then snapped Gnabry up but sent him on loan immediately to Hoffenheim

'As a manager you pick a team that's going to win a game of football. You pick your best team, you don't leave people out because you don't like them, because of this, that and the other.'

Arsenal recalled Gnabry from his horrid loan spell six months later but in the summer of 2016 the winger was sold for just £4.5million to Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen.

Arsenal fans were shocked then at how little they sold him for and fast forward to the present day, it has come back to haunt them.

In his single season at Bremen, he went on to score 11 goals in 27 appearances. But his time at the Weser Stadium proved to be nothing more than an informal loan move as eventually Bayern Munich snapped him up for just £7m.

He was then immediately sent out on loan to work under Julian Nagelsmann - one of Europe's most exciting young managers - at Hoffenheim, where he was deployed through the middle in a versatile system.

Once again, the Germany international surpassed double figures on the scoring front and Bayern had seen enough that he was ready to make the step up even though Hoffenheim were desperate to keep him for another season.

In his first full season at Bayern, he won the Bundesliga and was named Player of the Season

The 24-year-old forward has become a key figure of Niko Kovac's Bundesliga giants

It was a tough start to life at the Allianz Arena, not scoring until November in a disappointing draw at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga. But that marked Gnabry's rise to excellence at Bayern.

He ended the season with an impressive tally of 13 goals and nine assists in 42 appearances across all competitions as Bayern went on to lift their seventh Bundesliga title in a row.

He had finally achieved his life-long dream of winning one of the biggest trophies in world football but if that wasn't enough for him, he was named Bayern's Player of the Season... four years after Pulis said he wasn't good enough at the Hawthorns.

His emergence in Munich brought him to the attentions of Germany manager Joachim Low and he has quickly become one of their most important players at just 24 as they continue their renaissance by depending on youth.

Gnabry starred for the 2014 World Cup winners against Northern Ireland on Monday night, securing a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Windsor Park against Michael O'Neill's buoyant side.

His fantastic second-half performance was rewarded with a brilliant goal late on as Germany eventually put the game to bed. It marked his ninth goal in just 10 international appearances and his fifth already in Euro 2020 qualifying.

And Low has since gone on to claim that Gnabry he has already become a huge star for Germany.

Gnabry has also become one of the main stars for 2014 World Cup winners Germany

'Serge Gnabry has become a pivotal player for us,' the DFB website quoted him as saying after the win over Northern Ireland.

'He can hold up the ball in attack and bring other players into the game. His technical ability is right up there.'

The Germany head coach had also stressed Gnabry's importance before their 4-2 defeat by rivals Holland.

'Serge will always play under me,' he said in his pre-match press conference.

'He attacks the goal at speed, is good technically and moves around a lot between the lines. That makes him hard to pick up.'

The belief is there for all to see now and Gnabry will warmly welcome his manager's words. But he will be looking to kick on even further.

After winning his maiden Bundesliga title, the winger will be desperate to go even bigger and help put Bayern and Germany among the elite again.

Champions League, European Championship and World Cup glory to come for one of the world's most exciting stars?

Germany head coach Joachim Low labelled Gnabry as a 'pivotal player' for his side

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