Gedion Zelalem, the centerpiece of your hopes for America’s footballing future and child who passed Arsène Wenger in a hallway at the club training grounds that one time, appears to be on his way to Scotland. The 18-year-old midfielder for Arsenal — who features primarily with the Gunners’ U-21 squad — is currently in Glasgow, looking to finalize a season-long loan (or possibly a loan until January with an option to extend to a full season) with Rangers of the Scottish Championship (second division).
Just this weekend, Zelalem orchestrated and finished off a beautiful sequence that lead to the game winning goal for Arsenal’s youth over Fulham’s children. It was a picture-perfect “Oh, yeah!” moment to rekindle the imaginations of U.S. and Arsenal fans alike, which were on full NSFW mode after his impressive individual showing at this summer’s U-20 World Cup.
Strangely, these sublime 15 seconds weren’t enough to convince Wenger that Zelalem is finally ready to send Mezut Özil to the bench once and for all.
Without bothering to do any formal polling, one can assume the instant reactions to Zelalem being sent off to play second division soccer in Scotland fall somewhere between “Damn, what did he do to warrant such harsh punishment?” and “I thought he played for Bayern Munich.” As far as the latter is concerned, you have confused Gedion Zelalem with Julian Green, but in all fairness to you, that’s more Jurgen Klinsmann’s fault than your own.
Zelalem — who joins fellow loanees Nathan Oduwa and Dominic Ball from Tottenham — will soon be part of a proud American tradition of playing for Rangers on TV channels none of us have. Claudio Reyna, Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley, and Maurice Edu have all spent time at Ibrox.
But unlike them, Gedion Zelalem is looking at the famous club as a stepping stone, rather than a place to plant the stars and stripes and proclaim “We made it!” The times, they are a-changin’.