by Andrew Doulton - 15th January
The player that I had to choose in centre of midfield was one of the first names on the team sheet, that player is Gedion Zelalem.
Zelalem was born in Berlin Germany to Ethiopian parents. After a personal tragedy his family would move to the USA in 2006, It was there that Zelalem would play for a host of teams before moving settling at Olney Rangers. It was at Oleny Rangers that Arsenal scouts discovered Zelalem and brought him over to the Arsenal Academy where he would be signed.
Zelalem actually started his internationally career with Germany for the U15s, U16s and U17s before deciding to represent the USA. He has since gone on to feature 6 times for the USA U20s and 3 times for the U23s. Although Zelalem is yet to get his first cap for the United States, with him now playing regular football for Glasgow Rangers it can surely only be a matter of time.
Zelalem is due to turn 19 shortly but he has not yet managed to break into the Arsenal first team, he has made cup appearances for Arsenal and become the first player to play for Arsenal born after Wenger took charge. Zelalem has been loaned to Glasgow Rangers this season where he getting valuable playing time. Although Rangers are currently playing in the Scotish Championship he is getting exposure at a team that is challenging for the league, but in addition to that he is on a loan at a big club playing in front of big crowds.
Zelalem’s main position is playing in the centre of midfield, and it is in that position where he is really starting to develop in to a player of some quality. He is currently on loan performing in front of 50000 rangers’ fans and he has the confidence and ability to use outrageous skill to turn players and take them on. Its not just his technique which stands out, he also always seems to make himself available for the next ball by using intelligence well beyond his years to create space and play good one twos. His passing and creativity are two other qualities that we would call out as he very good at spreading the ball around the pitch but also producing an inch perfect pass to set up his teammates. One of the finest parts to Zelalems game seems to be the way that when he has the ball at his feet he has the ability to slow the game down.
He will be 19 shortly and from I have seen he really is playing at an advanced level for his age. There are not many players who make it through to the first team at Arsenal, but if Zelalem keeps progressing at this rate then surely he will get his opportunity in the future. His future at international level will also be very good for the USA, as he will offer this team allot over the next 15 years. It has to be said out of the team of 11 North American stars he has to be considered one of the best prospects selected.