There are various areas of the Arsenal squad that need to be strengthened during this summer’s transfer window, and the possible movements that the club may make have been discussed at length by Arsenal fans. Outside of the obvious cases of strikers, right-backs and goalkeepers, there are a few potential additions that are up for debate – and one of the most notable of these is that of a winger. The likes of Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela have been spoken about as potential signings, but, in my eyes, a purchase such as these is not especially needed; as we already have a deputy wide player waiting in the wings, in the form of Serge Gnabry. He is a player who is clearly very highly rated by Arsene Wenger and has improved massively in recent years, and another addition in his position would only serve to stifle his progress.
After making his professional debut last season, Gnabry’s involvement in the first-team has further increased in this campaign. He made his first start, against Stoke, back in September, and put in an accomplished display. The thing that struck me about this performance was his strength, and his ability to deal the physical aspects of the game – especially against a team such as Stoke. He is a player who holds onto the ball very well and asserts himself on the game, appearing confident and assured in possession; a quality that is needed for our style of play. A week later he was again chosen to start in the League, this time against Swansea, and here Serge bagged his first professional goal to cap what was another impressive showing. It was around this time that Joachim Löw, the Germany manager, went public in saying he was even contemplating making Gnabry a part of his World Cup squad; showing how highly thought of he is for such a young player.
After Christmas he was again afforded a succession of starts, and was named in the line-up for all but one of the club’s games in January. This gave him the opportunity to get a level of consistency into his game, experiencing the rigours of being expected to perform every few days. Serge appeared to cope more than competently, putting in a collection of solid displays, and this experience will hopefully benefit him going into next season.
When many of Arsenal’s key players were out injured last season, Podolski, Rosicky and Wilshere were often used out wide – to varying levels of success. Podolski can go missing at times and is commonly a bit of a ‘passenger’ in the team, while Rosicky and Wilshere are not orthodox wingers and their lack of pace and tendency to drift inside meant they often appeared to be square pegs put into round holes. Gnabry, however, carries the same traits as Chamberlain and Walcott do, with his game based upon pace, a degree power and trickery to get past his man, and so would be able to seamlessly fit into the side should either be absent. This makes him a like-for-like replacement for these two, meaning we do not need to look in the transfer market to find cover for this area; as Serge is built similarly to what we already have, allowing for easy squad rotation.
I’m not suggesting that Gnabry make 30+ starts next season by any stretch of imagination, but I do feel that he is capable of making an impact in our team; especially against outfits in the bottom half of the table. Even from early on in the season he could start in the ‘Sunderland at home’ style fixtures and this would reduce the burden on the likes of Chamberlain and Walcott – which could in turn potentially help our injury problems, as they would not need to play every game should Serge be given a more prominent role within the squad.
Additionally, Wenger has spoken before about the risks associated with bringing in more than 3 players during one window – and Tottenham this season have proved that numerous signings all at once can be significantly detrimental to a squad. We have to sign a right back and a goalkeeper, and obviously need to get a striker – so already we’re looking at bringing in 3. If a defensive midfielder is signed, and Thomas Vermaelen were to go leaving us short at centre-back, we would be bringing in many players at once and I feel signing a winger would be an unnecessary use of our money, as Serge Gnabry is now ready to make the step-up to becoming a full-time, first-team member.
He will be 19 when the new season commences and I feel ready to make this his breakthrough season, and for that reason, we don’t need to sign a winger this summer. Arsene Wenger loves an internal solution where possible, and I feel he will place confidence in Gnabry this summer rather than ‘kill’ his career by bringing in additional competition from elsewhere.