Have Arsenal made a mistake in letting Serge Gnabry leave?
For a club such as Arsenal with a philosophy for bringing through youngsters and giving them first-team opportunities, the departure of German midfielder Serge Gnabry on Deadline Day seemed something of a surprise, given the 21-year old’s rising profile. After enjoying a fine campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Germany, in which they took home the silver medal, Gnabry departed the North London club where he had spent five years of his career to put pen to paper with Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen.
Gnabry heads to the Weserstadion for an undisclosed fee, after having spent an unsuccessful spell on loan at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League last season, and only managing 18 first-team games at his parent club, scoring a solitary goal. The statistics are not encouraging at club level, but his six goals in as many outings in Rio this summer suggests the youngster may actually have needed more of an opportunity to produce with his clubs, rather than suggest that his club form is not up to scratch. With that in mind, has Arsene Wenger made an error in allowing the German to leave?
Since the respective rises of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey; the former who now also finds himself out of the Emirates on loan at Bournemouth, Wenger’s use of young players in cup competitions; a tactic he favoured so much in cup competitions in years gone by, has somewhat diminished. With Costa Rica international Joel Campbell also out on loan at Sporting Lisbon and Alex Iwobi of Nigeria being the only duo given a run in the first-team, it seems that Wenger may actually be losing faith in his younger players as Arsenal continue to come under scrutiny for their lack of Premier League title success.
Though admittedly, Wenger has been forced to turn to younger options to patch up his depleted side of late, particularly at the back. New signing Rob Holding from Bolton; a 20-year-old centre-half, has played every fixture so far this term thanks to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista suffering injuries. Héctor Bellerin is a youngster who has enjoyed some success also, and is now restored to the side at right-back after shrugging off injury, but another in Calum Chambers also finds himself away on loan, on this occasion to Middlesbrough.
All of these players of course have something to offer, though Gnabry may well have been the solution to an Arsenal conundrum. With Sanchez more of a central forward in the early weeks of the campaign, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott have become Wenger’s most viable wide men, but with both prone to inconsistency, a platform for Gnabry to go out and play football may have been a gamble Wenger should have taken. Although unavailable for Arsenal due to his Olympic duties, even his form in Brazil wasn’t enough to save his Arsenal career, surprisingly so after Wenger told the Express he wanted the 21-year old to stay at the Emirates.
Gnabry is beginning to show the form and capability where he can now begin to push on and really excel towards fulfilling his potential. However, in order to do that, he was in need of a first-team opportunity and he clearly would never be granted that at the Emirates, even though Wenger had the opportunity to present to him.
In many respects, given what the player may well have offered to the Gunners given the chance, Arsenal may well have made an error in allowing the player to leave for the Bundesliga, but with the young German at a point in his career where he needs first-team football to move along his upward spiral, sending the player to a club who will present him with the opportunity he craves, was the right thing to do.
So, was it a mistake from a perspective of what he could bring to the table for the Gunners therefore? Despite last season’s form, potentially, but on the other hand, it was also the best Arsenal cold have done for him. It is now down to Gnabry to prove himself as an up and coming player by taking his opportunity with both hands.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Kieran Clarke.