Serge Gnabry – The story so far

Serge Gnabry – The story so far

Arsenal have signed another prodigious talent from overseas in the last few days, with the brilliantly informed Young Guns exclusively breaking the news of the signing of Serge Gnabry for a fee of around £100,000.

He won’t be joining up with Arsenal for another year yet, with the deal taking him to the Emirates being activated when he turns 16 next July, but what is it that made Arsene Wenger so keen to wrap up a deal for the starlet?

Father and son. Jean-Hermann and Serge Gnabry line-up together for Stuttgart.

Undoubtedly the biggest influence on Serge Gnabry’s fledgling youth career has been his father, Jean-Hermann, who has coached him wherever he’s played thus far. An immigrant from the Ivory Coast, Jean-Hermann only planned to travel to Germany to learn the language, intending to soon return to his homeland to teach German to others. Instead he married and stayed in Europe, a decision that has made his son’s journey through youth football a smooth one.

Serge started playing at TSV Weissach, staying for four years with his father, as ever, coaching at the same club where his son played. Even at that early age Gnabry began to catch the eye and soon he was on the move, joining TSF Ditzingen at F-Junioren level. VFB Stuttgart scouts had already heard about this precocious youngster and offered him a place at their Academy, but Jean-Hermann decided that it was “too early for him”, stating that he felt at that age players should develop quietly away from the big clubs.

By the time he was ready to play in the D-Junioren class, Stuttgart had come knocking once again and this time Serge Gnabry did decide to join the Bundesliga giants, although only after first having a short stint at Stuttgart Kickers. The step up to playing in a major club’s youth set up failed to faze him and he was soon consistently impressing his coaches at that level, one of them his ever-present father who had joined Stuttgart’s coaching set up at that level.

Heiko Necker, who took charge of Gnabry at U14 level, said that what he saw in Gnabry was the rare ability to “never lose sight of his team mates” whilst still retaining a serious goal threat. Indeed, so good was he at finding the net that despite a tendon injury keeping him out for several months, the then 14 year old scored an astonishing 30 goals that season in the C-Junioren.

And last season, stepping up to U-15 level, Gnabry continued to make waves at youth level in Germany, making an impact in the EnBW-Oberliga Junioren domestic league competition, including scoring this goal against Stuttgart Kickers and helping to create two goals versus Karlsruher SC (which can be seen here and here). He also lit up the international indoor football tournament at TSV Blaustein, being named best player as his side lifted the trophy, before again winning player of the tournament in the German qualifiers of the Nike Premier Cup.

Having caught the eye of watching Arsenal scouts he was invited to London this summer for a trial period, and this proved to be another hurdle that Gnabry has successfully overcome, The Gunners agreeing a deal with Stuttgart in the last few days which will see Gnabry join the club upon his next birthday.

A player who cuts a lanky but athletic figure on the pitch, Gnabry would doubtless look at the number 10 role as his future in football although he has also often been used on the the flanks, particularly the left side, during his time at Stuttgart. Despite scoring an astonishing amount of goals at youth level he’s very much a creative player, as eager to provide the killer pass as apply the finishing touch. Perhaps his own choice of idols, Zinedine Zidane and Didier Drogba, illustrates best the way he tries to play.

Only time will tell if he ever comes close to those dizzying heights or even manages to forge a career in football at all, but he’ll certainly be one to watch when he arrives in England permanently next year as he tries to make the last but most difficult step towards professional football.

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