Why Arsenal should have never sold Serge Gnabry and Wojciech Szczęsny
- Arsenal were forced to sell a number of top players over the years, but selling these two young prospects was a mistake.
Ever since Arsenal spent £390 million to build the Emirates Stadium and moved there in 2006, they had to restrict themselves from spending huge transfer fees on players for a really long time. This forced the North London club to become a feeder club for other larger clubs around Europe for a number of years.
The Gunners were forced to sell players like Cesc Fàbregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Robin van Persie and a number of other players as well. At one point, Arsenal were considered the best feeder club in the world, but that has changed now and signings like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette prove that. However, two players Arsenal should have kept at all costs were Serge Gnabry and Wojciech Szczęsny.
Here is why.
When Arsenal signed Serge Gnabry, he was considered the brightest prospect in German football and the fact that Arsenal signed him for just £100,000 was a steal. His early development with the club was going as expected and he got a number of chances to prove himself in the first team as well. However, a serious knee injury in the 2014/15 season derailed his progress.
Arsenal decided to loan him out to West Brom the following season and promoted Alex Iwobi to the first team. While the Nigerian made a total of 21 appearances that season, Gnabry made just 3. As a result, Arsenal decided to sell him to Werder Bremen in the 2016/17 season and the German has had no reason to look back.
Serge Gnabry has thrived ever since he moved to the Bundesliga. In his first season at Bremen, he scored 11 goals and assisted 2 in 27 appearances and because of his impressive performances, Bayern Munich decided to buy him. If we compare his 16/17 season to that of Iwobi’s, the Nigerian, despite making 38 appearances only managed 4 goals and 5 assists.
If we compare Gnabry’s and Iwobi's stats ever since the German left, we see he has outperformed the Nigerian despite playing fewer games. Gnabry made a total of 69 appearances in the Bundesliga and scored 26 goals and assisted 13 while Iwobi made a total of 77 appearances in the Premier League and scored just 9 goals and assisted 15. Overall, Gnabry has made 81 appearances since leaving Arsenal and has scored 28 goals and assisted 14. Iwobi, on the other hand, has made 113 appearances and just scored 11 goals and assisted 22.
While Iwobi does have more assists, the fact that the Nigerian has played 32 games more than Gnabry is a cause for concern. There is no doubt that both players have improved leaps and bounds over the years, but with the way Iwobi and Gnabry have progressed, I’m sure the Arsenal fans would have preferred having the German playing for them right now. Also, the fact that Bayern Munich signed Gnabry to replace Arjen Robben says how highly he is rated.
Finally, with Arsenal facing a winger crisis this season, having a player of Gnabry’s caliber would have certainly helped their cause as they look to qualify for the Champions League again.
Wojciech Szczęsny is another player Arsenal should have never sold. While he had his ups and downs during his time at Arsenal, there is no doubt he has become a top player at Juventus. In the 2015/16 season, Arsenal decided to go with experience in goal and decided to sign Petr Cech from Chelsea and while his experience did help Arsenal, he did not have the desired effect.
Arsenal have been crying out for a top goalkeeper for years now and while Bernd Leno could be that player, Arsenal made a mistake letting go of Szczęsny. Loaning him out to Roma after signing Cech was the right decision, but after seeing how well he did there in his two years, especially after he kept the most clean sheets in the Serie A in his second season, Arsenal should have made him their first choice keeper instead of selling him to Juventus.
If we compare the Czech’s and the Pole’s stats, Szczęsny staying at Arsenal would have definitely been better. In the four years in the Premier League, Cech has played 110 games having conceded 125 goals and kept 41 clean sheets. Szczęsny, however, has played 3 fewer games and conceded just 92 goals and kept 42 clean sheets in the last four years in the Serie A.
Overall, in all competitions, Szczęsny still has a better record with him conceding 125 goals as compared to Cech’s 148 goals and has kept one clean sheet more. While the appearances and the clean sheet record don’t show a vast difference, the number of goals conceded is a huge worry for Arsenal. In the league, Szczęsny has conceded 33 fewer goals and overall has conceded 23 fewer goals. This season, Arsenal have used three different keepers and they have combined kept just 12 clean sheets while Szczęsny himself has kept 16 clean sheets.
While that might not seem a lot while reading about it, during the course of a season that makes a huge difference. Also, the fact that Juventus decided to make him Gianluigi Buffon’s successor at Juventus proves just how highly the Polish international is rated.
Unai Emery has certainly done a decent job at Arsenal so far and the fact that he has kept Arsenal in contention to finish in the top 4 is amazing. However, with persisting problems in goal and a lack of wingers this season, Serge Gnabry and Wojciech Szczęsny would have certainly benefited the team this season.Published 02 Mar 2019, 10:00 IST