Tony Pulis has continued to insist Serge Gnabry wasn’t ready for the demands of Premier League football back in 2015, and he claims Steve Bould agreed with that assessment.
Gnabry’s four-goal masterclass against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek has reignited all the old debates about exactly what went wrong at Arsenal for him to leave in the first place. As always, the first port of call is that disastrous loan spell with West Brom.
In 2015/16, Gnabry joined Premier League side West Brom for the season, making a grand total of three appearances in all competitions (zero league starts) before returning to Arsenal early in January. Tony Pulis has always claimed the winger wasn’t ready.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Pulis recalls getting a call from Steve Bould to organise the loan, with Bould reportedly telling him Gnabry needed to get fit and “to get out of Arsenal and have a look at the real world”.
The former Stoke and West Brom manager says: “Serge was miles off it. We talk about the demands of playing at that level and the relentless challenge of the Premier League week in, week out.
“I have seen many talented people who have wasted careers because they haven’t had the right mentality, and haven’t had the opportunity to understand.”
The implication from Pulis’ interview was that he gave Gnabry that opportunity to realise what he had to do if he wanted to achieve his goals.
To a small extent, you can see his point, as the winger himself told reporters ahead of the Spurs game: “I would say the mental side progressed really high during that time and helped me be who I am now.
“From a young age until I played in the first team at Arsenal it always went like this (he gestures upwards) and then suddenly I learned; ‘Woah, it doesn’t always go up.’ And I learned to deal with that.”
On the other hand, Gnabry could have learned that lesson in a month or two and still played football for the rest of the season. At a certain point, Pulis was clearly just being stubborn and had no intention to give the player a chance.
Either way, we now know that Bould organised the loan, Pulis refused to play him and Gnabry rejected an Arsenal contract extension and decided to leave. Makes you wonder how Arsene Wenger is always the one to get the blame for this.