Arsene Wenger has defended the decision to let Serge Gnabry leave Arsenal and believes Bayern Munich played a hand in his desire to seek a move away back in 2016.
Gnabry – who scored four times against Tottenham in the Champions League – only had a year left on his contract when he swapped the Emirates for Werder Bremen, having made just 10 Premier League appearances for the Gunners as well as enduring a torrid loan spell at West Brom.
Wenger insists he was a huge believer in Gnabry’s talent and wanted to keep him, but says Bayern played the long game to lure him away.
‘We tried to extend his contract for a very long time and I think that Bayern manipulated behind the scenes, that if he went to Bremen he would join Bayern after,’ Wenger told beIN Sports.
‘He was always a very talented boy who lacked confidence in some stages, but we always thought we had a player who could achieve a lot.
‘He came back from a very bad experience on loan at West Brom where his confidence was destroyed. I tried to rebuild him because I believed in him.’
Arsenal’s decision to let Gnabry leave was criticised in the wake of his four-goal haul in Bayern’s 7-2 demolition of Spurs, though Wenger says he now needs to maintain those levels.
The Frenchman continued: ‘A top-level career is consistency, if you look at the players that dominate our sport it’s the ones that show huge consistency and that’s what is at stake.
‘Can he maintain the quality of performances that he showed the other night?’ On that incredible result for Bayern at Spurs, he added: ‘Bayern had just won 3-0 at Paderborn, you wouldn’t expect them to come and put seven goals away at Tottenham. I think it was one of those nights where everything goes for you and everything against Tottenham.’