Following much fanfare as he rose through the ranks of Arsenal’s youth academy system, and even more after officially pledging his international allegiance to the U.S., Gedion Zelalem‘s progress stalled a fair bit this season.
After failing to force his way onto the fringes of Arsenal’s first team, the 20-year-old was sent out on loan to VVV Venlo, where he made just nine league appearances (one start) in the Dutch second division. Now, with the U.S. U-20 national team at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea, his tournament is over after just 34 minutes.
“For Gedion, this was his second U-20 World Cup, so his experience was invaluable for us,” said U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos. “His passing ability is second to none in this tournament, and we’ll miss that. He was running the team from his position.
Arsenal have loaned the 20-year-old midfielder to Dutch side VVV Venlo until the end of the current season. Playing time has been harder to come by at this point of Zelalem’s career than many — including the player himself — might have hoped, thus another loan for a young player still with a long way to go in his development.
Venlo currently sit top of the Netherlands’ second division, four points clear of second, with promotion to the Eridivisie very much the target this season.
The last six months have seen momentum behind Zelalem dissipate quickly. Following a mostly successful loan spell to Rangers last season, the German-born American international has failed to make the next step in his career, which would be to push for a place in Arsenal’s first team. A permanent move away from the Emirates Stadium seems likely this summer.
GOALKEEPERS: Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California), Justin Vom Steeg (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
DEFENDERS (8): Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy), Marcello Borges (Michigan), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Marlon Fossey (Fulham), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC), Miles Robinson (Syracuse), Toni Suddoth (VfB Stuttgart), Auston Trusty (Bethlehem Steel FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Luca De La Torre (Fulham), Derrick Jones (Bethlehem Steel FC), Brooks Lennon (Liverpool), Weston McKinnie (Schalke 04), Jonathan Suarez (Queretaro), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal)
FORWARDS (5): Jeremy Ebobisse (Charleston Battery), Victor Mansaray (Seattle Sounders FC), Emmanuel Sabbi (UD Las Palmas), Sebastian Saucedo (Veracruz), Isaiah Young (PDA)
Friday brings us the beginning of the Bundesliga season, meaning every major league will have started its season.
There are American players throughout Europe worth watching, many of them well-established with their clubs. We know plenty of Danny Williams at Reading, of Fabian Johnson at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Geoff Cameron at Stoke City.
But what about the young crowd, the ones we know a bit less about? Let’s call the group Americans under the age of 23, with 10 caps or less. We quizzed our ProSoccerTalk staff, weighted the rankings according to power, and wound up with 15 names from MLS to the PL.
Players were given one point for each mention, and a corresponding value to whether they were ranked first (10 points) or tenth (1 point) by a given writer.
PST’s Top 15 USMNT prospects
15. Joe Gyau, Borussia Dortmund (1)
The 23-year-old was about as exciting a prospect as any when he tore his meniscus against Ecuador. Now, he’s just getting back on the pitch and a loan may be on the cards.
14. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew (3)
Of players aged 23 or younger, only one has had a better overall season than Trapp. The 23-year-old just fits on our list, and needs to find another level, but he’s going to be solid at worst.
13. Walker Zimmerman, FC Dallas (4)
The seventh-overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the big Georgian has been outstanding this season.
12. Erik Palmer-Brown, Sporting KC/Porto B (5)
It’s easy to forget about EPB, the 6-foot-1 center back who left SKC on loan in February, but he’s gone 90 minutes in every match since making his Porto B debut in March. Juventus bid $1 million for Palmer-Brown when he was still 16, and they know a thing or two about scouting kids.
11. Rubio Rubin, FC Utrecht (6)
The 20-year-old started Utrecht’s first two matches of the season as a center forward after foot surgery cost him much of 2015-16. No one should ignore his 3 goal, 6 assist season the previous season.
10. Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia Union (9)
The very likely MLS Rookie of the Year has been a dynamite part of Philadelphia’s resurgent season.
9. Emerson Hyndman, AFC Bournemouth (12)
The 20-year-old just moved to the Premier League, and has yet to debut after playing out his contract with Fulham in hopes of greener pastures.
We don’t have to really say anything, do we? The 17-year-old Pennsylvania kid has made an impact at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and could be set for a loan now that BVB has added Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, and Ousmane Dembele.