Belfast Telegraph

Gnabry's Premier League flop baffles O'Neill

Clinical edge: Serge Gnabry has 13 goals for Germany
Clinical edge: Serge Gnabry has 13 goals for Germany

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill can't fathom how Germany's goalscoring machine Serge Gnabry failed to become a hit in the Premier League.

Gnabry scored an outstanding hat-trick against O'Neill's men on Tuesday night in Frankfurt and his international record is incredible - 13 goals in 13 games.

But 24-year-old Gnabry, who came through the Arsenal youth ranks, failed to shine with the Gunners, playing only 10 games and scoring one goal. After half a season on loan at West Brom, where he played only one match, the German hotshot returned to his homeland three years ago.

Since then, he has gone on to become one of the most devastating strikers in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich, and in the Champions League this year he scored four goals against Tottenham.

On Tuesday, he was unplayable at times due to his strength, movement, vision and clinical finishing.

"Gnabry's goalscoring record is phenomenal, it's a mystery to me how the English clubs didn't get more out of him," said O'Neill.

Gnabry's national team coach Joachim Low concedes he's been in his thoughts for some time and was highly thought of by his German team-mates during his time at Arsenal.

"When he was at Arsenal he was plagued by injury and all these injuries set him back," stated Low.

"But even at the time, around the 2014 World Cup, he has always been in my thoughts.

"He had some very good games with Arsenal and Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil would say to me, 'Look at Gnabry, he's a fantastic player, he keeps defences very busy', so we had him in our sights for a long time. But he played with Arsenal at a very early age.

"He wasn't able to play at the Confederations Cup in 2017 but I think he's won back his fitness and he's developing wonderfully well."

World Cup-winning coach Low takes great pleasure in watching Gnabry play as he believes the Stuttgart-born hitman is a special talent.

"I've always had the highest possible opinion of Serge Gnabry, right from the start it was obvious to me he would be a fantastically important player," stated Low.

"He was always one to pass the ball to, he doesn't play up front all the time, he lets himself fall back a bit and you can find him anywhere on the pitch and he's able to play in many positions.

"These are prime qualities in any player, and also his finishing is technically fantastic. He makes things happen. For his first goal against Northern Ireland his first touch is fantastic, and then he turns around and hits it with the other, it was a beauty.

"Then with the third goal the defender runs in his way but he keeps his balance and slots home. He has enormous quality as an individual player but at the same time he's a fantastic team player."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph