Gedion Zelalem has shone well enough during the first four months of his loan spell at Rangers that the Scottish Championship (second division) club has extended his stay to the end of the current season.
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Rangers manager Mark Warburton confirmed the extension on Sunday: “Gedion is staying with us. We talked to Arsenal, that’s an ongoing process.” Rangers currently sit joint-top of the Scottish Championship.
Zelalem, who earlier this year made his one-time international switch in order to represent the United States, has appeared in 11 of Rangers’ 17 league games and notched two assists in his nearly 800 minutes on the field. Having joined the Arsenal youth academy as a 16-year-old in 2013, Zelalem, now 18 (he turns 19 in January), has not yet made his Premier League debut for Arsenal, but has appeared in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League group stage (one game each).
The fact that Zelalem has gone on loan, at the age of 18, and contributed even the slightest bit is a promising sign for his future. In the case of so many U.S. national team players over the years, they’ve rarely been as successful as Zelalem in earning playing time and contributing while out on loan to lower-level side.
Zelalem may not be ready for the senior USMNT just yet, but Jurgen Klinsmann will surely have kept a keen eye on the German-born, Ethiopian-descending, United States-representing playmaker. With the U.S. U-23 national team’s Olympic qualifying playoff looming in March, an in-form Zelalem might just be the key to the not-so-baby Yanks qualifying for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.