Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
Once deemed not good enough for West Bromwich Albion by Tony Pulis, his career has taken off like a rocket.
After a prolonged period of obscurity in professional football, albeit hampered by injury, the 2018/19 season was one to remember for Gnabry as he was named Bayern Munich’s player of the season in a title-winning campaign.
The 24-year-old enjoyed another productive campaign in 2019/20, scoring 19 goals and registering 13 assists in 41 appearances for Bayern as the German giants clinched an eighth successive Bundesliga title.
It all looked so promising for Gnabry early on in his Emirates career, as he was handed his Premier League debut as a teenager by none other than Arsene Wenger.
However, after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury the winger was unable to force his way back into Wenger’s plans on his return.
A miserable loan at the Hawthorns followed, where then Baggies boss Tony Pulis claimed he ‘was not at the required standard’ to compete.
“Serge has come here to play games but he just hasn’t been for me, at the moment, at that level to play the games,” he famously said.
“He’s come from academy football and not played much league football.
“Does academy football really prepare players for league football? And we’re talking about Premier League football here.
“As a manager you pick a team that’s going to win a game of football.
“You pick your best team, you don’t leave people out because you don’t like them, because of this, that and the other.”
After rebuilding his career at Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, Gnabry has grabbed his big break with both hands at Bayern – and has certainly proved many people wrong in the process.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Lyon)
Having progressed through the Lens academy, Jeff Reine-Adelaide moved to Arsenal in 2015.
The following season he made six appearances, all in cup competitions, before being loaned to Ligue 1 side Angers.
That productive loan spell with Angers saw him return for pre-season back in north London following the completion of the 2017/28 season under Unai Emery – but he was soon shipped out of the club.
In an interview with Goal, the France Under-21 international revealed that he was told he was surplus to requirements before even getting the chance to prove his worth at the Emirates.
“It is true that I would like to speak a little less of Arsenal. I was young. It was complicated,” he said.
“There was so much competition that it was difficult to get into the coach’s line-up. He [Emery] told me that the club did not rely too much on me.
“I took a blow, but Angers were on the lookout. It was a new chance, a new beginning. The train does not pass often and I was happy to get back in the right car.”
Still only 22, Reine-Adelaide is another former Gunner who looks set for a very bright future in the game.
The midfielder joined Ligue 1 giants Lyon last summer in a deal believed to be worth in the region of £23m.
And he’s certainly shown early signs of promise, and scored two goals in 19 appearances for the club before Ligue 1 was cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven)
Another youngster who was tipped for big things at the Emirates was Dutch forward Donyell Malen.
The 21-year-old opted to leave Arsenal for PSV Eindhoven three years ago – despite being offered a contract extension in north London.
Malen will certainly feel he was vindicated in his decision to return to his homeland, enjoying a prolific run of goalscoring form in the Eredivisie.
The exciting prospect scored 18 goals for club and country this term prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.
The only consolation for Malen is that the coronavirus pandemic put an end to Euro 2020, a tournament he was set to miss before the global health crisis halted the sporting world – with the Dutch top flight subsequently cancelled.
Will Balogun be next?