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Arsenal transfer rumor: a Serge Gnabry return?

Reports have the Gunners interested in bringing a familiar face back to the Emirates.

Germany Training Session In Marbella Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The latest Arsenal transfer rumor is one that will delight plenty of Gooners — Serge Gnabry has been linked with a move back to the Emirates. The 26-year old attacker has a year remaining on his contract with Bayern Munich, and reports are that he does not want to sign an extension. According to BILD, Bayern are willing to let him leave for £34m, a number that would offset their hypothetical spend for Sadio Mane, who has been heavily linked with a move to the German giants.

Gnabry has consistently spoken well of Arsenal, even after leaving the club. He has expressed a desire to return multiple times and said that he still watches Arsenal matches when he can. There is even the suggestion that Gnabry, if the move doesn’t happen this summer, would want to return to North London on a “free” transfer.

“Free” transfer meaning that Arsenal don’t pay Bayern Munich but instead fold some of what would have been a transfer fee into a signing bonus / weekly wages for Gnabry. And it’s those wages that’s likely to be a sticking point, whether the Gunners buy him this summer or wait for him on a Bosman. Reports have his wage ask as high at £300K per week, which I don’t think there is any way Arsenal will do. The club has been working hard to get the wage structure back in line, having struggled through being a Europa League club on a Champions League wage scale over the past few years. They’re not going to blow up all that work with one signing, even if they do it on a free after having (hopefully) qualified for the 2023-24 Champions League.

If that weekly wage number could be negotiated down to £220K or maybe even £250K, a move for Gnabry seems more likely. It would still make him the highest paid player at the club (before Bukayo Saka’s extension — if he signs one) but wouldn’t detonate the wage structure, either.

Gnabry would be a fantastic (re)addition for Arsenal. He’s a world class scorer (64 goals, 40 assists in 171 games for Bayern) and would walk into the starting lineup. He can play any position in a front three, which would give Mikel Arteta flexibility and the ability to rotate players. As we’ve been saying for a while, Arsenal need quality depth. Gnabry would provide that; he’d bump either Gabriel Martinelli or Emile Smith Rowe down the depth chart. Arsenal would be much more formidable having one of those two as the first attacker off the bench rather than Nicolas Pépé, Reiss Nelson, or another player at that level.

My gut says that Arsenal aren’t going to buy Gnabry this summer but that signing him on a free next summer is a very real, perhaps likely, possibility. Spending £34m on a player that they don’t need this year, especially when they can get him for a bit cheaper a summer down the road, seems a smarter course of action. Signing Gnabry is a “go for it” move, and I think Arsenal have one more “build” year ahead of them in the plan. Next summer, hopefully with a Champions League place to offer and CL money in the coffers, is when the Gunners should flip the switch and spend a bit more on proven, in-their-prime players.