Serge Gnabry has spoken regarding his summer departure from Arsenal, insisting that the Gunners were desperate to retain his services. The 21-year-old has significantly increased his exposure to first-team football and scored five goals in 11 outings since completing a £4.5m ($5.5m) switch to Werder Bremen in August.
Gnabry, who proved his potential by finishing as joint-top scorer at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with six as Germany's U23 side claimed silver medals, also notched an impressive hat-trick on his senior Germany debut earlier this month during an 8-0 World Cup qualifying defeat of Group C minnows San Marino in Serravalle. He also appeared a second-half replacement for Leon Goretzka during a goalless friendly draw against Italy.
Such an impressive run stands in stark contrast to Arsenal, where Gnabry, not helped by a serious knee injury suffered in 2014 that kept him sidelined for 11 months, made only 18 total appearances across a five-year stint that followed his move from Stuttgart.
He was later described as not yet being at the required level for first-team Premier League matches by Tony Pulis during an unsuccessful season-long loan stint at West Bromwich Albion that was cut short in January after just 12 top-flight minutes and two starts in the League Cup.
Reflecting on his exit from north London in a recent interview with German sports magazine Kicker, Gnabry, initially expected to join Bayern Munich before being loaned to Werder Bremen, said: "It was the right decision [to leave Arsenal]. Everybody who compares my development over the last four months to my time in England before that can't come to a different conclusion. That was the main reason for the transfer – I wanted to get more playing time and it worked. Arsenal wanted to keep me, badly. But I had to look after my development."
Gnabry's initial success with Die Werderaner, currently 16th in the Bundesliga following a 2-2 draw away to fellow strugglers Hamburg in which the winger scored a fine solo equaliser just before half-time, has led many to accuse Arsenal of letting an obvious talent slip through their fingers. Arsene Wenger expressed confidence that the player would remain at the Emirates Stadium for a "long time" post-Rio and indicated a willingness to extend his contract beyond the end of the season citing how the club had stood by him during his injury problems and also helped to rebuild his confidence following that woeful stint at West Brom.
"We didn't want to get rid of Gnabry, we wanted to keep him," he stressed after the departure. "But he was in the last year of his contract. We were close to extending his contract but finally he changed his mind and went to Werder Bremen."