How do you begin to explain the mystery of Serge Gnabry? The winger has catapulted Bayern Munich into the UEFA Champions League final against PSG, scoring his eighth and ninth goals of the campaign.
Overall, Gnabry has 21 goals and 14 assists this season.
And yet five years ago, he was regarded as surplus to requirements at West Bromwich Albion, playing in just three league games during a loan spell there.
Manager Tony Pulis even described the German as not ‘at that level to play games’ in the English Premier League.
Gnabry returned to Arsenal after that loan spell and decided to leave in 2016, which Arsene Wenger has revealed he was “very sad.”
“Let’s not forget Gnabry, I bought him at the age of 15 from Stuttgart and he was injured a lot,” Wenger told beIN Sports.
“He’s creative, he can score goals, right-footed, left-footed, good power, good penetration, very, very clever with the timing of his runs.
“His tendency was a bit too easy, like I’ve told you about with these young talented players, but he has matured a lot and is now one of the dominant players in Germany.”
The German winger had joined the Gunners youth system in 2011 from Stuttgart but struggled to establish himself in the first-team with only 18 appearances to his name.
Wenger didn’t want to let the youngster leave Arsenal. The Frenchman believed he could rebuild his confidence, but that disastrous spell with the Baggies convinced Gnabry it was time to head home.
In August 2016, he joined Werder Bremen – despite being linked with a move to his boyhood club Bayern – having sought advice from team-mates and former Bremen players Mertesacker and Ozil.
Gnabry scored 11 league goals in that 2016-17 campaign. It earned his move to Bayern, who paid a reported 8m euros (£6.6m). He was then sent on another season’s loan, to Hoffenheim, where he scored another 10 times in 22 Bundesliga games. And the rest is history.
Perhaps because of the route he took to Bayern, the club where it almost all began 14 years ago, Gnabry is aware of his privileged position with the Bundesliga champions. He remains humble and knows what it means to represent one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
“For sure, you have moments where you sit down and reflect on how things go,” he says. “It is the same with everything. You get used to stuff, get used to your interviews, but you always want to put the jersey on or come here knowing what a club it is.
“It was a kid’s dream to play for a club like this. Now you are there, so it is a moment where you are very much proud of yourself and enjoy it.”