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.