Former Germany under-17 coach Stefan Boger has previously intimated that Serge Gnabry is not far adrift of the capabilities of Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze and the key for Arsenal now is to ensure their German teenager continues to get games in order to aid his development.
The signs are that Gnabry has a big future with the Gunners after signing a new five-year-contract, with five appearances already this season showing that he is now considered a first-team squad player.
Arsene Wenger has typically done well at integrating youngsters into his first-team plans and it is important now that Gnabry doesn’t get restricted to Capital One Cup matches only and the odd token five minutes in the Premier League.
With Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both on the comeback from injury, their returns are sure to reduce the 18-year-old’s game time, while the sheer number of central midfielders on Arsenal’s books at present is also hindering his starts.
Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have already profited from starts out of position on the right flank, which is the position where Gnabry has starred previously.
What is worth noting is where Gnabry sits in comparison to Gotze back when he was 18 and the other youngsters currently emerging through the German system.
Gotze made 39 starts for Borussia Dortmund in all competitions in the season after his 18th birthday and there is no denying that a run in the team helps players build confidence and produce their best form.
Leon Goretzka is another talented 18-year-old German midfielder and he has made eight appearances for Schalke this season, albeit most have been off the substitute’s bench.
Emre Can is only a year older at 19, but has featured nine times for Bayer Leverkusen, including starts in two of the three Champions League fixtures.
On a brighter note, if Gnabry is limited to mainly reserve football this season, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus were both 19 before becoming anything resembling first-team regulars and it doesn’t seem to have had a negative effect on their development.
Arsenal are 6/1 to win the Capital One Cup this season and a strong run in this competition would be good news for Gnabry’s immediate future.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.