Gedion Zelalem getting his chance to impress with Arsenal’s first team

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January’s FA Cup appearance marked 17-year-old Gedion Zelalem’s debut in Arsenal’s senior team, but this summer, the potential U.S. international is getting his chance to impress with the first team before the season starts. Thrown into a midfield featuring the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby, Zelalem played 45 minutes at Boreham Wood on Saturday, with the Gunners’ 2-0 win giving one of their prized prospects a chance measure his progress.

The experience, as well as training with some of his idols, has left the prospect in awe.

“I think about it all the time,” Zelalem told Arsenal’s website today. “In training [sometimes] I’ll zone out thinking, ‘Oh, I’m really training with them’. I don’t think I’ll get used to it!”

According to the web site, Zelalem “impressed with a composed” half of play against the conference club, with the academy product hoping to get more chances with the team as preseason goes on.

[RELATED: Arsene Wegner lauds American soccer fans: “This is the perfect time to visit USA”]

“I’m delighted to play with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby,” Zelalem said. “I grew up watching them, so playing with them is pretty much a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll be able to play with them more.”

Given Zelalem’s promise, that seems inevitable. The question is when; or, rather, when will the young midfielder get a chance to shine with the senior team on a regular basis?

Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Beyond Ramsey and the newly healthy Diaby, manager Arsèene Wenger can choose from Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini, and Francis Coquelin in central midfield. And with players like Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira linked to the Gunners, Arsenal’s depth will likely improve before kicking off the Premier League season next month.

[RELATED: US summer tour schedule for every Premier League team]

But Zelalem is clearly progressing. If he made an FA Cup appearance last season, maybe 2014-15 will give him a few more chances to shine. Perhaps there’s a loan in his future. And maybe, as the Premier League season progresses, Wenger see an opportunity to give his prized prospect his full league debut.

In the interim, Zelalem is soaking up as much information as possible.

“All of them help me – not only the ones that play in my position,” Zelalem said of Arsenal’s stars. “Per Mertesacker tells me what to do and it’s just a good environment to be in.

“They tell me about their experiences, that things will get hard but that you just have to push on. It’s good.”

Mexico star Marquez back at Atlas after US drug sanctions

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez is back with his club more than a month after the U.S. Treasury Department named him on a sanctions list for alleged drug trafficking ties.

Atlas said Monday that the 38-year-old defender is practicing with the team again.

In August, Marquez was among 22 people sanctioned by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was accused of acting as a frontman for the Raul Flores Hernandez drug trafficking organization.

Marquez has denied any wrongdoing and said he will work to clear his name. He is not known to face any criminal charges in the United States or Mexico.

Atlas says Marquez will continue his legal fight while at the team.

Marquez has played internationally with AS Monaco, Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls.

Wolfsburg hires Martin Schmidt after firing Andries Jonker

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg has hired Martin Schmidt to coach the Bundesliga side as a swift replacement for Andries Jonker.

[ MORE: PL Playback — Koeman, Everton facing significant pressure ]

Jonker was fired on Monday after less than seven months in charge, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Stuttgart leaving Wolfsburg with four points from its opening four league games of the new campaign.

The 50-year-old Schmidt has signed a contract through 2019 and he will take charge of Tuesday’s game against Werder Bremen.

The Swiss coach left Mainz by mutual consent in May after almost three years in charge. Mainz finished last season in 15th place in the Bundesliga, above Wolfsburg on goal difference. Wolfsburg only survived in the Bundesliga last season by a winning a playoff.

More AP German soccer coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

Swapping cleats for gloves: Rio Ferdinand to become a boxer

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It wouldn’t be the first time a professional athlete has tried his hand at another sport, but this one is a bit surprising.

[ MORE: Leicester-Liverpool highlights Tuesday’s Carabao Cup action ]

The Telegraph is reporting that ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is poised to become a professional boxer and is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old has been a pundit for BBC and BT Sport since retiring from soccer 2015, but the six-time Premier League winner appears ready to tackle a new venture.

Ferdinand will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former Sheffield United striker Curtis Woodhouse — who went on to become British light-welterweight champion.

Below is a video Ferdinand posted to his Instagram account on Monday which appears to show him practice dodging with a personal trainer.

Dodging Rain Drops…. Reaction Drill… Keep Moving!! 💧🎾 @chrisvarnavas

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Cavani, Neymar feud presents questions about PSG chemistry

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Paris Saint-Germain picked up its sixth consecutive win to start the Ligue 1 season on Sunday, but something else happened during the team’s 2-0 victory over Lyon that should be a show for concern.

[ MORE: Bayern keeper Neuer injuries foot, could miss months ]

In fact, two notable sequences occurred during the match that proved money cannot buy chemistry — or how the saying goes.

The issues on both occasions were between summer signing Neymar and Edinson Cavani — who has been with PSG since 2013.

First, a free kick situation arose where Cavani had appeared that he was going to take the set piece, until Brazilian defender Dani Alves stepped in and took the ball and proceeded to give it to his national and club teammate, Neymar.

The second occurence was even more embarrassing though, as Neymar and Cavani argued over who would take a penalty kick, which Cavani ultimately got his way before having his shot saved by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Below is a video containing a piece of both instances.