Will Zelalem be able to break into the Arsenal first team next season?
The news that Zelalem will be returning to the club to fight for a place in the Arsenal first team squad next season, has both its advantages and disadvantages. It’s good news because Zelalem has always been highly rated by the club, although he has spent the last few years away from first team contention since making his debut. But it also raises the question, is Zelalem going to be Arsene Wenger’s ‘like a new signing’ player for this summer?
Every transfer window it seems that Wenger plays the ‘he’s like a new signing’ card. Wenger said this on previous occasions, notably Wilshere’s return from his injury in 2011-12, as well as the more recent return of Francis Coquelin last season. It is frustrating because instead of investing in a top quality player, Wenger instead will try to justify bringing back someone already on the books and trying to play them off as a much needed boost for the team. On occasion it does work, as witnessed in the cases of both Wilshere and Coquelin and who’s to suggest that Zelalem won’t be the same. However I don’t think Arsenal fans could suffice with Wenger failing to secure top calibre players yet again, instead deciding to go with youth.
Gedion Zelalem has been on Arsenal’s books since 2013, signing from Olney Rangers, his local side in the lower American Leagues. He made his debut the following year in the FA CUP and followed up with a Champions League appearance later in 2014. Zelalem had short spells in both games but impressed in the time he had on the pitch. Zelalem is yet to make his debut for Arsenal in the Premier League but his performances for both the Under 21’s and Rangers this season, could prompt club officials to give the United States Under 23 player a chance in the first team.
On his return to Arsenal, Zelalem told the Metro; ‘The whole point of a loan deal is to get experience and I’ll go back to Arsenal and strive to get involved [in the first-team] there. The contact has been good and they get a lot of feedback and scouts have been coming to watch the games.’
Zelalem has been ever present for Rangers this season and has made 20 domestic appearances for the Scottish club, winning both the Scottish Championship and Scottish Challenge Cup in the process. The 19 year old has showed his quality of passing on the ball and midfield creativity, features that he has also shown for both the Arsenal first team and the Under 21’s.
With Alex Iwobi most recently making the transition from the Under 21’s to the first team, Zelalem is more than likely to be in with a chance of being included at the very least in some match day squads next year, especially in the earlier rounds of the league cup competitions.
Will you be excited to see this highly rated youngster finally make more of an impact for the Gunners next season? Leave your comments below.