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The young German winger has had a rapid rise through the ranks and now appears to be in the thoughts of his manager, leaping ahead of Theo Walcott ahead of Reading clash

PROFILE
By Tom Marshall-Bailey

Serge Gnabry is a name that is perhaps not recognised by many, but it soon will be if his stock continues to rise in the way it has done since the German youngster's move to Arsenal last year.

While Gunners fans have been particularly vocal about their side's recent failings in front of goal, Gnabry appears to have emerged amongst the bitter disappointment in the recent consecutive defeats to Norwich and Schalke as something of a silver lining.

With Gervinho taking up a more central role this season, Andrey Arshavin out of favour and Theo Walcott given few opportunities due to his contract dispute, the 17-year-old has found himself thrust into the limelight, albeit as a late substitute in the two frustrating back-to-back losses.

Some will make the point that the tricky winger has already been handed the ultimate baptism of fire by entering the fray in both games with little time to make any impact and in difficult circumstances, but Gnabry is not one to hide under pressure.

He has reached the top in quicker fashion than any of the admirers amongst the backroom staff at the Emirates could have imagined and it is testament to the Ivory Coast-born star's attitude that he has not let the occasion get the better of him when it so easily could have.

Arsene Wenger has already waxed lyrical about his latest prodigy by suggesting there is a chance he could play a role in the Gunners squad this season, when it had been expected that Gnabry would appear primarily in the Capital One Cup Cup, a competition in which Wenger tends to blood his next crop of talented kids.

It was only in the summer that Gnabry penned terms on a first professional contract after taking his first year with the Under 18 and reserve teams by storm, making his senior debut as a second-half sub in a 6-1 Capital One Cup win over Coventry last month, much to the delight of fans who have heard typically rave reviews.

The Gunners may have the best defensive record in the Premier League, but it's offensively where Arsenal are struggling and after last week's stormy AGM - in which the self-sufficient financial model and Financial Fair Play debate arose again - the consensus among the Emirates faithful is that the squad needs strengthening in that area in the January transfer window.

SERGE GNABRY
MIDFIELDER | ARSENAL

2012-13 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 3
Goals 0
INTERNATIONAL FILE
Senior debut v Coventry (26/9/2012)
Under-17 Caps (goals) 12 (3)
Former club(s) Stuttgart

Whether any deals will materialise or not could come down to the impact Gnabry makes between now and then if he is offered more opportunities with the first-team. But Wenger's inclination to strengthen internally could rear its head once again if the Frenchman fails to find a viable target in the market should Walcott decide his future lays away from the Emirates Stadium.

And unexpectedly, Gnabry may hold the key to Wenger's approach ahead of the next round of contract talks, as well as any January transfer activity.

As Goal.com recently revealed, Arsenal have made Atletico Madrid striker Adrian Lopez their top striker target for the upcoming window, but he is seen as more of a central option to provide competition for Olivier Giroud.

WENGER TARGETS CAPITAL ONE CUP
5/1 Arsenal are 5/1 with bet365 to win the Capital One Cup
Gnabry, though, is widely perceived as a wide option due to his direct nature, owing to his previous days as an athletics sprinter back in his native Germany, and Gunners fans will get another taste of their latest teen star's qualities against Reading in the Capital One Cup clash in midweek, where he is likely to start.

Against Norwich, he came on for just seven minutes but split the home defence with a beautifully-weighted pass while his contribution against Schalke was to register the Gunners only shot on target of the night.

His Arsenal career has certainly begun brightly but whether Gnabry develops into the player Wenger and fans alike know he can be could ultimately hinge on the future of another wideman.

Arsene, over to you.

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