First published in the Metro
The Germany international joined the Gunners’ academy from Stuttgart in 2011 and despite showing raw potential, was never given a prolonged run of games in the first team.
Gnabry was loaned out to West Bromich Albion, where he made just three appearances in six months, and was eventually sold to Werder Bremen, before being snapped up by Bayern Munich.
After an impressive season on loan at Hoffenheim, the forward was given an opportunity in Bayern’s first team and since then has become a vital cog in the German champions’ side.
Gnabry’s seven goals in the Champions League this season – including a volley in the 8-2 win over Barcelona – have helped fire Hansi Flick’s side to the semi-finals of the competition, where they play Lyon on Wednesday night.
Former Arsenal striker Van Persie admits he saw flashes of a prodigious talent at youth level and now puts him up there among the best in the world.
‘He was still very young, he was about 15, 16,’ Van Persie told BT Sport.
‘I was around 24 I reckon. He was coming through, you could see he had all the stuff you need to be a top player but he was still very young.
‘He was fast, playing with confidence, but I don’t think we played together in the first team. He was in the youth teams and reserves. Quite shortly after he went on loan to West Brom.
‘Unbelievable that he struggled so much at West Bromwich Albion and now he’s a world class player.
‘He’s a joy to watch. He’s fast and he can dribble, he has vision, awareness, he scores great goals.
‘The one he took on the volley against Barca I really liked. He’s respecting every chance he gets.’
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