Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem has become a United States citizen and plans to commit to U.S. soccer, reports the Washington Post.
According to the report, Zelalem was in Washington on Monday to finalize the naturalization process and now just needs FIFA approval, which is believed to be "a perfunctory exercise."
Becoming a U.S. citizen would allow the 17-year-old to play for the U.S., Germany (where he was born) or Ethiopia (his family's homeland), but he has told American officials that he will play for the U.S., according to the Post.
The earliest that Zelalem could be called up to the U.S. men's national team by Jurgen Klinsmann is in late March, according to the Post.
From the report:
Zelalem is eligible for a U.S. passport through the Child Citizenship Act, a federal law that allows offspring of naturalized parents to also become citizens. Zelalem’s father, Zelalem Woldyes, was naturalized this year. The law applies to children under 18 only; Zelalem turns 18 on Jan. 26 -- an approaching deadline that had raised anxiety among U.S. supporters and officials.
Zelalem spent several years of his childhood in the United States in the Maryland area. He joined Arsenal's under-21s in April 2013, then made his debut with Arsenal's senior team in January. In March, he signed his first professional contract with Arsenal.
- Molly Geary