Does Serge Gnabry deserve a World Cup call-up?
By Rune Gjerulff @runegjerulff
The in-form Serge Gnabry has proved lately why he should be seriously considered for Germany’s World Cup squad.
In 2018, Gnabry has played 11 matches, made five assists and netted six times for Hoffenheim – with five of his goals coming in his latest five appearances. In the 6-0 win over 1. FC Köln in the end of March, Gnabry scored twice after two stunning solo runs, and in last weekend’s 1-1 match against Eintracht Frankfurt, he ensured Hoffenheim a point after yet another great individual effort.
The German national team coach, Joachim Löw, must have noticed Gnabry’s recent form, and if the former Arsenal player continues like this, he should be considered a serious option for the World Cup squad.
However, Löw may consider Gnabry’s rise in form to have come too late for the tournament in Russia. The 22-year-old has played for all of Germany's youth national teams and for the Olympic side in 2016, but he has only made two appearances for the senior national team – both in November 2016. Gnabry was called up in August 2017, though, but had to withdraw from the squad because of an injury.
Additionally, the competition for a spot in the squad is obviously extremely tough, but Gnabry has the advantage of being very versatile. This season, he has mostly been used as a striker at Hoffenheim, but he has also done well on the wing and even as a wing-back. Now, while it’s very doubtful that Löw will consider using Gnabry as a wing-back, he could potentially use him either as a striker, as a secondary striker/central offensive midfielder or on either wing.
That means he’s battling for a spot against players such as Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Marco Reus, Julian Draxler, Mario Götze, André Schürrle, Leroy Sané, Julian Brandt, Timo Werner, Sandro Wagner, Lars Stindl and Mario Gomez.
Judging from performances in the Bundesliga this season, Gnabry has without question been performing better than players such as Mario Götze, Andre Schürrle and Lars Stindl, but they all have much more experience, and Löw may choose to prioritize that over current form.
In any case, Gnabry has shown that he has the potential to be an important player for Germany in the future if he stays out of serious injuries. It will be a challenge for him to return to Bayern München after the season, but with the form Gnabry has shown lately, he is capable of taking the step up.