Having now established himself as a star of the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, Serge Gnabry has no regrets with his decision to leave Premier League giants Arsenal back in 2016.
Gnabry came through Arsenal’s academy and made his professional debut at the age of 17, even becoming the club’s second-youngest player in Premier League history behind only Jack Wilshere.
But with first-team opportunities limited, he made the brave decision to leave the Emirates Stadium and join Werder Bremen ahead of the 2016/17 season.
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A breakout campaign saw him earn a move to Bayern and – while he initially spent a year on loan at Hoffenheim – Gnabry is now firmly involved in the first-team picture at the Allianz Arena and believes it was the right decision to leave Arsenal.
“[Arsenal] had so many wingers at the time – [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain], [Tomas] Rosicky, Theo [Walcott], [Santi] Cazorla, Alexis [Sanchez], Mesut Ozil – so I just had to go, he told the Athletic, according to an article on the Bundesliga’s official website.
“I was still confident I could’ve have got in the team but I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want to be fourth or fifth choice any longer.
“It was the hardest decision I had to make in football, leaving a club like Arsenal – the fans, the players – but to keep playing I had to take a step back and it was the right decision.”
Gnabry will come up against his former club’s arch-rivals Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, with Bayern looking to make it two wins in a row in Group B after victory over Crvena zvezda last time out.
For all their dominance on the domestic front – having won the Bundesliga in the past seven seasons – Bayern have not tasted continental success since 2013, which is something Gnabry hopes they can rectify this season.
“Before I arrived, they [Bayern] were almost always in the last four,” the 24-year-old added. “They played better than their opponents but were unable to win it.
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“Last year we had a very young team with me, Niklas [Sule], Joshua [Kimmich]. But our goal is always to compete at the highest level, and we have the potential to do that.
“Have we got a better team now? I don’t know. [Philippe] Coutinho, Ivan [Perisic], Lucas [Hernandez] and Benji [Benjamin Parvard] have all come in, and have all played at the highest level.
“We need to be strong mentally to beat the top teams. We’ll see how far along we are against Spurs.”