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Serge Gnabry said that his heart wanted to stay with Arsenal, but he felt it was the logical decision to leave and return to his home country of Germany.
Though Gnabry has now played for four different clubs since he last started a game for Arsenal, he was back in the headlines in England after smashing four past Spurs and then again when he helped Bayern get rid of Lyon in the Champions League semi-final.
The player himself spoke to the media in 2019 to confirm it was his decision to leave, in the end, but he felt it was one he had to make to play regularly.
“In my heart, I wanted to stay,” Gnabry told ESPN.
“I always believed that I had what it takes to play for Arsenal, but these things are not always down to you. It was a tough decision [to return to Germany] but it was a logical one. I needed to play to get ahead.”
It’s a shame he felt that way, as there are plenty of examples of players who have come through the academy and received consistent first-team chances with Arsenal.
Hector Bellerin, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all made themselves first-team regulars after initially playing in the youth teams, and those are only the ones in the current squad.
There’s no doubt Gnabry would’ve been playing every week if he’d still been around. Obviously.
Gnabry was just 16-years-old when he left Stuttgart’s academy to join Arsenal.
The German winger excited many during his time in our youth teams, and eventually earned a call-up to the senior squad. He made 18 first team appearances for the club and looked a highly promising talent.
Unfortunately, a lengthy knee injury that nobody ever speaks of and a terrible loan spell at West Brom curtailed his progress.
He left the club for Werder Bremen in 2016, and did so well he was signed by Bayern Munich a year later although there were reports that the initial move was funded by Bayern in the first place, a charge the Germans denied despite the fact they signed Gnabry 12 months later as the rumours reported they would.
Both Arsene Wenger and the German media claimed Bayern were behind the move.
Looking back on his time at Arsenal, Gnabry explained that he couldn’t pass up the chance when it came along.
“I was 16 and remember that when I received an offer from Arsenal, I couldn’t believe it,” he said, as reported by Fichajes.
“I had no doubt because it’s an ideal scenario for any young player who wants to make a name for himself and work with a coach who relies so much on the youth team.”
Despite not being able to nail down a place in the Arsenal first team, the 25-year-old is still very complimentary of Arsene Wenger.
“He’s one of the best coaches in the world and has a vision for great talent. I was fortunate to work under him,” he said before Wenger left Arsenal.
“He’s a wonderful coach. There are many people who support him because they know he always looks for the best for Arsenal.”
Gnabry is certainly one that got away from us and Wenger knows it.
“Let’s not forget Gnabry, I bought him at the age of 15 from Stuttgart and he was injured a lot,” Wenger told beIN SPORTS after Bayern beat Lyon in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday evening.
“He’s creative, he can score goals, right-footed, left-footed, good power, good penetration, very, very clever with the timing of his runs. His tendency was a bit too easy, like I told you about with young, talented players.
“But he has matured a lot and he is one of the dominant players now in Germany.”