sport news How Serge Gnabry beat the odds to become a star man for Bayern Munich and ...

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() It is fair to say that Serge Gnabry's path to the top echelons of football hasn't been the easiest of journeys.

After starting out in Arsenal's youth teams, the winger's potential was there for all to see. But whether he could develop his rawness into greatness remained in doubt.

Arsenal's academy was renowned for being one of the best for developing youngsters' games and with Gnabry starting out his career at the club in 2011, there was hope he could force his way into first-team plans.

Serge Gnabry announced himself on the scene at Arsenal against rivals Tottenham in FA Cup

Serge Gnabry announced himself on the scene at Arsenal against rivals Tottenham in FA Cup

The German youngster came up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in 2014

The German youngster came up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in 2014

SERGE GNABRY STATS

Bayern Munich

Appearances: 45

Goals: 13

Assists: 11

Honours: Bundesliga 2019, German Cup 2019 

Germany 

Appearances: 10

Goals: 9

Assists: 1 

And after just one season in the academy, those hopes turned into reality when he made his first-team debut against Coventry in the League Cup in September 2012.

Premier League and Champions League bows followed in the same season for the hugely exciting prospect, becoming Arsenal's second-youngest player in the English top flight to make his debut after Jack Wilshere.

But it was the 2013-14 season when he really came of age and he couldn't announce himself on the scene in north London any better.

In January 2014, Arsenal met fierce rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup and Arsene Wenger took a gamble by throwing Gnabry straight into the deep end by naming him in his starting XI.

The decision emphatically paid off as Wenger left out star names against Spurs, including Gnabry's fellow Germans Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker. 

After nearly opening the scoring in the third-round fixture, the 19-year-old was instrumental in the opener, laying a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Santi Cazorla, who had no need to break his stride before slotting home.

Despite the massive occasion and sense of anticipation leading up to the game, Gnabry didn't look remotely overawed - attacking with verve and zeal from the off during the 2-0 victory.

Gnabry endured a nightmare loan spell at West Brom, featuring just three times

Gnabry endured a nightmare loan spell at West Brom, featuring just three times

Tony Pulis claimed Gnabry was not at the level required to play for West Brom's first-team

Tony Pulis claimed Gnabry was not at the level required to play for West Brom's first-team

Arsenal fans finally thought they had found a winger to get them off their seats and after his impressive start to the season, he was rewarded with a new five-year contract as the Gunners looked to the future.

But what followed, started a roller-coaster chapter of what could have been. Gnabry missed most of the 2014-15 campaign with a serious knee injury, which kept him away for over a year.

And it started a downward spiral in his short career as the youngster was eventually sent out on loan to West Brom in August 2015 to gain more first-team experience at the highest level. 

However, he played just three times in West Brom's first team. 

And it was during the loan stint at the Hawthorns that then-Baggies manager Tony Pulis provided fans with an infamous quote on Gnabry's ability, which has now been immortalised in football.

'Serge has come [to West Brom] to play games but he just hasn't been for me, at the moment, at that level to play the games,' Pulis said. 'He's come from academy football and not played much league football.

'Does academy football really prepare players for league football? And we're talking about Premier League football here.

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