According to a report from the Washington Post, young Ethiopian/German/American Arsenal midfield prospect Gedion Zelalem has withdrawn from high school in Maryland and will move to London with his family, with an eye towards joining the club's youth ranks when he comes of age in the winter.
Zelalem hasn't been mentioned on this blog much in the past, but he is a highly touted young player who's talented technically and a gifted passer, who has been on Arsenal's radar since just before the club offered him a place in the academy last year.
Zelalem's nationality is curious: he is of Ethiopian descent, but is a German citizen and, until moving to London, was a permanent resident of the United States, living in Bethesda, Maryland. He's highly coveted by the United States national side (he's eligible for a US passport through family, and is apparently in the process of obtaining it) but also eligible for the German team (he's trained with their youth set-up in the past, as he has with the Americans). His German citizenship is paving his route to London, though, as his status as a citizen of a European Union nation means he doesn't face the work permit issues that Arsenal have run into with players in the recent past, like Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell.
Zelalem will join the youth set-up at Arsenal in January, when he will turn 16 and become eligible to join an overseas club as per FIFA rules.
The young player trained with Arsenal briefly last year after his coach at elite local club team Olney Rangers contacted Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon. Karbassiyoon watched him several times and he was subsequently brought to London to train with the team, where he was offered a spot at London Colney. He also got to meet Arsene Wenger, which had to be awesome.
According to Zelalem's coach at Walter Johnson High School (!) Mike Williams, the player could be in Arsenal's first team in the next three years. So...yeah, he's pretty good.
Whether that comes to pass will remain to be seen. As we've discussed today a bit already, Arsenal's midfield is heavily populated at the moment - but, in three years or so, if Zelalem is as good as those who've seen him claim, and there's a spot for him, it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. He's not even sixteen years old, though, so let's not anoint him as the new Cesc Fabregas (or Santi Cazorla?) just yet. As an American, I just hope the kid plays for the United States. We could use some creativity.
If you want more on young Gedion, also check out this Washington Post profile (like I did).