Gedion Zelalem is set to sign his first professional contract on his 17th birthday this Sunday as Arsenal reward him for his impressive progress through the youth ranks.
The midfielder, who came to prominence during the club’s pre-season tour of the Far East, hasn’t yet made a competitive start for the first team but has a chance of making his debut this evening having been included in Arsene Wenger’s squad for the FA Cup game against Coventry.
Elevated to the subs bench for the Premier League game against Sp*rs back in September, the German youth international suffered a knee injury soon after and subsequently missed out on the Gunners short-lived Capital One Cup run. Having recovered after two months out he’s made three appearances for the under-21s, three in the UEFA Youth League and had run outs for the under-18s and in the FA Youth Cup.
There’s no doubt that the club holds Zelalem in high regard, the Guardian’s David Hytner relays a great anecdote about the first time Wenger saw him play, but his talent and popularity looks set to leave him with a tough decision to make on his international allegiance.
Not only is he eligible for Germany, who he’s represented at under-17 level, but also the USA (where he lived between the age of nine to 16) as well as Ethiopia. Even England are thought to be keeping tabs on his progress aware that he’d be eligible for the Three Lions should he apply for residency in the future.
There’s a lot of pressure on the lad, let’s hope everything is done to help him deliver on his obvious talent. Unbelievable to think that he was born after Arsene Wenger took over at Highbury…