Zelalem back in training but time running out

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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.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Pedant

Shame, had high hopes for him as Cesc Mark 2 at one point.

But most youth players don’t come though, so have to expect that he might have been the same.

gooner1981

It must be so frustrating for the player. Certainly is for the fans. Had high hopes for him, and for Jon Toral, both of whom have had a really miserable time with injuries whilst at Arsenal. Hope Zelalem gets fit and fulfils his potential, though it looks like it will have to be elsewhere.

1993

Bundesliga seems to be the obvious choice.

Merlin’s Panini

I think his ship has sailed unfortunately. Would love to be proved wrong though!

Rhyle

I hope we give him one more year to get fully fit, he deserves to be supported through the process and get one last crack of the whip somewhere along that line. So much potential, as everyone else has said, I hope we get to see him fulfil it somewhere, if not at the Arsenal

Orion

I think ESR is pretty much the nail in GZ’s coffin. Really hope he just gets healthy. Would like to see him sign somewhere he can get minutes. He’s got talent for sure. I could see him going back to Scotland or perhaps MLS to build his reputation back up. 21 is still young.

Lucas Sam

Please, mls is too low level, even for him. He needs to stay in europe

santori

Which is why we should temper our enthusiasm a little with younger players.

Still remember how so many over inflated Iwobi and Bellerin and then all too readily cut them down.

Ditto Zelalem. We should be careful of over estimating the likes of Smith Rowe currently.

Too many fans blindly fall into the ‘flavour of the month’ trap.

para

the thing is, flavour of the month is just that, the flavour of the month is it not? 🙂

Homer

Spot on comment.

Zelalem has bags of talent. Noone really knows what the club’s plans are as it sounds like Blogs is just making a guess. I’d hope he gets a fair look when he’s healthy.

Dave Cee

Hope he can stay fit for the rest of the season and at least have the opportunity to show the coaches what he can do. After all the early promise I kinda have a soft spot for him now and would be really happy if he still make it with Arsenal.
After seeing us fail to make real progress spending a lot of money on mostly mediocre players I would love for Arsenal to become a team built on top class players that came through the youth system supplemented with the occasional big money signing..like Pep’s Barca

Goo-nerd

Us American Gooners were especially hopeful for Zelalem’s success. I don’t understand why Wenger didn’t give him more opportunities after that preseason in Japan. The way he shielded the ball and bounced off defenders while still having the awareness to play pinpoint passes was unreal. I guess the fact that he didn’t set the world alight at Rangers and VVV shows that Wenger knows (knew) best. I’m not giving up on him and I hope Emery doesn’t either. The kid seems to be made of strong stuff (apart from his wiry knees) so I hope he kicks on and secures… Read more »

YpsiGooner

All of this. As an American I was super geeked about his ability to pick a pass. Just hasn’t translated for reasons I don’t quite know, though.

Bcbn

Should sell him with a buy-back clause

Goontang

Cant see it happening unfortunately. Too many people in front of him at this point which is a shame. Basically have a full midfield of up and coming talent who deserve game time aswell in AMN, Goundouzi and ESR.

Can only hope he goes onto have a decent career in the Bundesliga or even the MLS. I’m sure there would be plenty of teams in the states willing to give him a chance to rebuild his career.

Naija Gunner

Such a shame….

Peter

The kids 21 still. Cant believe people so quick to write him off. Watching him as a youth player, his passing was pinpoint brilliant, he was aware and he always wanted the ball, those talents dont leave a player. Such bravery so young I recalled thinking. He should be kept and worked back to full fitness. 21 people. If this were a different league, and not the quick result high pressure demands of the premeier league, and indeed those displayed here with this ‘sell him off talk’, he’d have played many more games at Arsenal instead of going out on… Read more »

Teryima Adi

I have a feeling he has run out of time in Arsenal. Wishing you all the best, Zelalem.