USMNT’s Zelalem leaves Arsenal for Sporting KC

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Gedion Zelalem is looking to get his career back on track, and the USMNT midfielder has landed in Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City.

The club announced on Monday that Zelalem has signed a deal for the rest of the 2019 season, “with club options for 2020 and 2021.”

Zelalem, 22, was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents and moved to Maryland as a youngster. Former USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann spoke highly of Zelalem after he chose to represent the U.S. over Germany, while Arsene Wenger took him to Arsenal at the age of 16 and raved up his potential.

Zelalem will now be pushed on by Peter Vermes at Sporting KC, and this signing is a huge coup for MLS as it proves that yet another young player sees a pathway to develop their game and improve in North America.

“Gedion is a talented player and we are excited to welcome him to the club,” Vermes said. “We look forward to his integration into the squad as the team competes in multiple competitions throughout the season.”

Since bursting onto the scene with Arsenal and the U.S. youth national teams, Zelalem has struggled to kick on. After joining the Gunners’ academy in 2013, he made just four first team appearances under Wenger.

Loan spells at Glasgow Rangers and VVV Venlo were okay but not great, while injuries impacted his development in north London and he just hasn’t quite lived up to expectations after being billed as one of the most skilful youngsters to be nurtured at Arsenal’s academy.

There is no doubting Zelalem’s talent, especially with the ball at his feet, but there are some question marks around his physicality and even his drive to succeed at the next level.

We are about to find out if he can rip it up in MLS as he will finally push for regular minutes as a professional. That is something that has never happened, and was unlikely to happen, at Arsenal.