Gedion Zelalem is back in training as he steps up his recovery from his latest injury setback but there is an increasing feeling that the midfielder’s chances of succeeding at Arsenal could come to an end at the conclusion of the current campaign.
A serious knee injury has meant that Zelalem has spent 16 months on the sidelines and he has yet to feature for Arsenal at any level this season, even though he did make the bench in the Checkatrade Trophy before suffering yet another fitness blow.
Zelalem’s determination to get back to peak fitness is admirable, yet time is certainly running out for him to succeed at Arsenal, especially when it is taken into consideration that his contract expires in the summer.
At 16 years of age Zelalem made a superb impact for the first-team in pre-season as he showcased his penchant for playing precise passes, yet now aged 21, he has just four competitive appearances for the senior side to his name.
That talent of being able to unlock opposing defences in an instant remains very much intact, but Zelalem faces a major battle just to re-establish himself in Arsenal’s U23 side upon his return to action, with Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock on the cusp of the first-team and others, including Charlie Gilmour, Robbie Burton and James Olayinka, progressing well.
Zelalem has previously gained experience during loan spells with Rangers and VVV-Venlo and, should he prove his fitness, there is a chance that he could head out on temporary transfer again in January.
For now, his aim will be to build up his fitness again and at least get some minutes with the U23s.
As far as his overall objective of getting into the first-team is concerned, though, something significant will have to take place if a transition that looked rather inevitable when he was 16 is ever going to happen.