Serge Gnabry and Bayern Munich are struggling to agree a new deal and, years later, the media still want you to think Arsenal got wrong by selling him when they didn’t really have much choice.
Serge Gnabry is out of contract at the end of next season and, as such, is in talks with Bayern Munich over a new deal.
Both parties are said to be some distance apart with the former Arsenal player said to want wages to match those of Leroy Sane (approx €13m-a-year).
Gnabry reportedly wants to stay with the German champions but that hasn’t stopped some parts of the media linking him with a move, including to Arsenal.
Liverpool and Manchester United are also said to be interested in the player who still gets described as an ‘Arsenal flop’ or ‘the one Arsenal got wrong’.
Many fans blame Arsenal over the whole thing, so what really happened?
At a BT Sport live Facebook event in 2016, Arsene Wenger confirmed that he had wanted to keep Serge Gnabry at the club during the summer.
“We didn’t want to get rid of Gnabry, we wanted to keep him,” Wenger said.
“But he was in the last year of his contract. We were close to extending his contract but finally he changed his mind and went to Werder Bremen.
“But I think we taught him a lot and I think if you ask him he would agree with that.”
While youngsters often leave Arsenal, rarely do they ever do a Paul Pogba.
The closest in recent years, perhaps, is Oguzhan Ozyakup who was sold for just under €500k and was briefly valued at around £12.5m before plummeting quickly to £1.44m.
Mostly, however, the youngsters never reach price tags anywhere close to that.
When he left, I said at the time that Serge Gnabry felt like he was going to smash that trend and become the player who really makes it big after walking away from Arsenal.
So why did Serge Gnabry want to leave Arsenal?
It was clear that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger wanted to keep him, even before Wenger’s comments above.
During the summer, as talk mounted over his contract on the back of his Olympic displays, the boss even seemed to issue a warning to the German – he owed the club for standing by him though a serious knee injury that took him out of the game for over a year. They nursed him back to the point where he could shine in Brazil.
It seemed inconceivable that he would reject a new deal.
As with most things, it’s unlikely that there is just one answer to this question.
A number of things could have played a part, but perhaps the biggest factor of it all was simply Bayern Munich.
When reports started to emerge that Gnabry might leave Arsenal rather than signing a new deal, it was Bayern Munich who were the side first linked.
First drafts of the reports claimed that Bayern would purchase him and then loan him out immediately to Werder Bremen, the side that ultimately, ‘purchased’ Gnabry from Arsenal.
The rumours then switched and it was claimed that Werder Bremen would buy him but that Bayern would have an option on him next summer, an odd claim given they have never been involved in Gnabry’s career.
Then, it was claimed that Bayern were giving the money to Werder to enable them to buy Gnabry in the first place.
There has been much speculation over why they would do this with the leading conspiracy contender claiming it was because Arsenal would have charged Bayern more for Gnabry than they would Bremen.
I can’t say that I’ve dug into Bayern’s other transfers to see if they are indeed overcharged, or if they have entered into a deal like this before, but it would seem very strange.
At most, it would have saved them a couple of million, not a huge saving when you think what could happen if they’re caught.
You see, ‘parking’ a player is illegal.
It’s no wonder that Werder were very quick to deny any Bayern involvement, but even the messages coming from their club was not consistent.
Something very fishy was floating around.
We will likely never know what really went on, although Arsene Wenger is convinced Bayern Munich were behind it all.
Bayern Munich, as with Real Madrid and Barcelona, are a hard club to say no to, and their involvement from the outset certainly makes Gnabry’s decision to quit Arsenal for Werder Bremen more understandable, especially as there was a slot in the Arsenal first team waiting for him should he decide to try and take it.
He would not have had to do much to displace the Ox from the starting lineup.
Then there was the Tony Pulis factor.
Arsenal agreed to Gnabry joining West Brom on loan, a decision that proved disastrous for the forward as he tried to return to form after his knee injury.
Many ask why Arsenal let him get to the last year of his contract, but that decision is not a hard one to understand.
Knee injuries can destroy a player and after coming back from it and failing to nail down a place with West Brom, for whatever reason, Arsenal most likely had doubts over Serge’s ability to get up to the top level and were waiting for evidence that he had, or, at the very least, could, get back on track.
Let’s not forget, before his performances at the Olympics, nobody was talking about Gnabry.
He was not a player high on many club’s shopping lists and Arsenal would have felt confident that, after employing him for five years and guiding him back from a serious injury, they had time to play with, albeit not very much.
His loan spell at West Brom also had a negative effect on Gnabry’s confidence, a fact Wenger mentioned when he said, “He went to West Brom, didn’t play, we had to rebuild his confidence. I allowed him to go to the Olympics to help Germany.”
Footballers, like everybody, can be inherently selfish, but with his whole career still ahead of him, most people would have felt a debt to Arsenal.
Gnabry clearly did not.
Now valued at £63m, the paltry £4.25m Arsenal got for him seems even more ridiculous than it already did in a summer that saw Paul Pogba move for £94.5m, a year after Anthony Martial moved for £54m.
Nobody was claiming Gnabry was at their level in 2016, but it was clear he’d reach it. I know because I wrote this part back in 2016 and I’m having to update it for 2022.
I also wrote in 2016 – “The fun part will be having to listen to the media bang on constantly about how we let him go in the first place without ever questioning if the player should have shown a bit more loyalty and respect to the club who allowed him to get to a place where he could shine in Rio in the first place.”