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Former Maryland-resident teenager holding his own in Arsenal preseason (videos)

Jul 18, 2013, 10:46 PM EDT

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While Julian Green has stolen the headlines for his two hat tricks in Bayern Munich’s preseason, Gedion Zelalem has also performed ably for Arsenal in its preseason tour of Asia.

Zelalem lived for seven years in Bethesda, Md., and played for the Olney Rangers before signing with the Arsenal academy. He is not an American citizen, and he has not appeared in any official matches despite taking part in a couple training camps with the United States under-15 team.

The 16-year-old played in the second half of Arsenal’s 7-0 win over an Indonesian “Dream Team” on Sunday, playing several balls behind the opposition’s defense and generally controlling the center of midfield for the Gunners:

He is eligible to represent Germany, although his parents are from Ethiopia. His family moved to the U.S. in 2006. According to a report in The Washington Post at the time of his signing with Arsenal, Zelalem is eligible and pursuing an American passport through familial ties.

In April, he made his debut for Arsenal’s under-21 team in a 3-2 loss to Liverpool, looking comfortable and fitting in with players up to five years older than him:

The central midfield playmaker has been compared to Cesc Fabregas and Zinedine Zidane, a successful professional career beckoning for his vision and ability on the ball. It seems he has the support of his club and first-team manager Arsène Wenger, who is no stranger to promoting prospects from the academy.


  1. seanb20124 - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    Do we want him on us team? My guess is he will only play for USA once he finds out he is not good enough for Germany. Much like Jones, Williams, and Chandler.

    • randomhookup - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:54 AM

      I’m pretty sure we would love him. There is a slim chance he will have US citizenship soon, but, he’s in the German camp for now. If he plays for the German U21s in the Fall before he is a US citizen, he is lost to us under current rules. And his dad is the one pushing him to Germany, so we won’t get much help there…

  2. hildezero - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Once he’s all grown up, I think he’d rather play for Germany over US. Let’s hope he doesn’t choose Germany.

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