Thursday, June 20, 2024

Zelalem’s departure a shame but a necessity

Gedion Zelalem’s Arsenal career came to an end this week as he completed a permanent switch to Sporting Kansas City.

In truth, there was little surprise regarding his departure and his destination, with the midfielder having struggled for regular game time at U23 level this season, while he is heading back to the United States, where he still harbours hopes of having a future on the international stage.

It is tempting, though, to wonder what might have been with Zelalem, whose penchant for playing precise through-balls was in evidence from a very early stage and saw him catch the eye for the first-team in pre-season in 2013.

Unfortunately, however, he has not been able to build upon those displays, and his struggle isn’t entirely of his own making, with Zelalem, like many other talented youngsters, having endured much misfortune with injuries.

There was some hope when he met Unai Emery last year that Zelalem would be given a final chance of salvaging his Arsenal career, but that ultimately didn’t transpire, and Arsenal have now turned their attention to another crop of players, including Joe Willock.

Zelalem will be determined to get back playing regularly in the United States but few would have predicted that he would leave Arsenal with just four competitive first-team appearances to his name, none of which came in the Premier League.

There are some suggestions that Zelalem was overhyped, but some of his displays, albeit against limited opposition, demanded attention and it is a shame that he wasn’t able to carve out a long-term career at Arsenal.

As with Emmanuel Frimpong’s retirement last week, this is a further example of just how challenging it is for young players to succeed, even if they are very talented.

Zelalem will be looking to avoid Frimpong’s fate by getting over his injury struggles and enjoying a lengthy career.

Jeorge Bird is the author of Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Shame he hasn’t achieved success with us, hopefully we’ll see him again.


SKC is the best place he could have gone to besides Atlanta, which couldn’t have fit him in anyways. They play decent football and with some time he should be able to fit in and be a significant contributor.


As an SKC fan as well as a dies hard gooner I am happy to see him in Kansas City. I hope Vermes can resurrect his career like he has with so many others. He is still young so I hesitate to even say resurrect. Still hope gets a bit of game time once he gets up to speed.

Also thanks for saying that about SKC I like to think they play a good brand and are a decent side. But good to hear from others it is.


“What might of been”? Seriously? Oh lord.

Danger Mouse

That is annoying but in fairness it’s corrected now and we all make mistakes!


I was always impressed by Zelalems vision and ability to carry the football but it is what it is.. Gnabry on the other hand..

Spanish Gooner

Gnabry the 23 year old who got an assist for the German champions in the CL Quarter finals two nights ago? That Gnabry?


Yeh, as in with Zelalem ‘it is what it is’ whereas with Gnabry he is the one that really got away and it’s not so easy to dismiss as ‘it is what it is’.


He still hasn’t locked anything down at BM. He is a nice player but didn’t want to be here. It happens.

Corona X

No wonder he didn’t want to be here after we shipped him out on loan to Tony fucking Pulis!
I can’t think of a worse insult to your footballing abilities..


*kicks player in the bum repeatedly* “he seems to be unhappy here, not sure why!”
*continues to slap player in the face* “is he heading towards the door?”
*gives player final nudge* “oh well, guess he didn’t want to be here.”

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Not a fighter in games. Talking about MLS, a much much more talented player like Freddie Adu didn’t even succeed in MLS because he was clearly lazy. Zelalem needs to show more fight in games.

Jack but

Why don’t we insert those buy back clause? Our negotiators are so inefficient


How does a buy back option work? Obviously fee is determined ahead of time but is the salary/wage? Player beholden to the buy back clause?


He would have to be an existing player whose new contract would have to include that language as a negotiated condition of the transfer. But he ran out his contract, so we can’t insist on that.

However, SKC are a Kroenke-owned club. If he comes good and a big transfer is in the the cards at some point, you can bet they’ll consider bringing him back.


His contract with us expired*

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