Gedion Zelalem’s time as an Arsenal player could be coming to an end with the player in negotiations with MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City, according to Football.London.
The midfielder, a US passport holder born in Berlin to Ethiopian parents, is out of contract at the Emirates in the summer but could move Stateside any time before their window shuts on 7th May.
Like many before him, Zelalem’s first team prospects as a Gunner have been hampered by a serious injury.
Recruited by the Arsenal Academy in 2013 after being scouted by Danny Karbassiyoon at the Dallas Cup youth tournament, Zelalem’s creativity quickly caught Arsene Wenger’s eye.
Still only 16, he was included in the pre-season tour of Asia ahead of the 2013/14 season where his passing earned comparisons with Cesc Fabregas. “It won’t be long before he’s ready,” remarked an impressed Jack Wilshere. Debuts in the FA Cup and Champions League followed in 2014, as did a contract extension.
In 2015/16 Zelalem was sent north of the border to gain more experience. He enjoyed a successful loan spell in the Scottish second tier with Rangers, helping the Ibrox outfit earn promotion to the SPL and win the Scottish League Cup. Just for good measure, he also netted a penalty in a Scottish Cup semi-final shootout with Celtic.
Could he force his way into the first team on his return to London? Seemingly not. After six months in which he played only youth team football, he signed another contract before joining Dutch side VVV-Venlo on the advice of Andries Jonker. He made nine appearances as they won promotion to the Eredivisie.
Since then, it’s been downhill for Gedion. In May 2017, he suffered knee ligament damage playing for the United States at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea and a subsequent setback in his recovery kept him sidelined through until last November. He’s made a few appearances for Freddie Ljungberg’s under-23s this season but it’s become increasingly clear that for his career to progress he’ll have to fly the nest.
If there’s a positive, it’s that Zelalem is still only 22 years old. Hopefully, regular football will see his confidence return and his talent come to the fore.