Gedion Zelalem may very well wind up playing for the U.S. men's national team, but Germany isn't going down without a fight for the 18-year-old Arsenal midfielder's services.
Zelalem, the German-born USMNT target, was called in by Germany's under-18 men's national team on Tuesday for a pair of games against France later this month. Zelalem, who just obtained U.S. citizenship before turning 18, is not yet eligible to play for the U.S. as he awaits FIFA clearance over a rule that prevents naturalized citizens from automatically being cleared to play for their new nations. U.S. Soccer has filed for an exemption and is expecting FIFA to comply.
"We're going through the FIFA process and hope to have Gedion eligible by March or April," U.S. Soccer president and FIFA Executive Committee member Sunil Gulati told ESPNFC in January. "We don't expect any issues."
Zelalem, who could decline the Germany call-up–a year ago he declined a call-up to Germany's U-17 squad–has drawn high praise from U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who told reporters last week that he thinks Zelalem is ready to contribute for the U.S. senior team as soon as he is eligible to don the red, white and blue.
Zelalem played 89 minutes on Monday for Arsenal's U-21 team and is not on the traveling roster for the club's UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second leg in Monaco on Tuesday. The Gunners are in a 3-1 hole after dropping the first leg to the Ligue 1 side at the Emirates.