Gedion Zelalem included on Arsenal's star-light roster for Red Bulls match
The majority of Arsenal's household names won't be making the trip across the Atlantic Ocean ahead of Saturday's friendly against the New York Red Bulls, but one name in particular will be of interest to U.S. fans.
Gedion Zelalem, the 17-year-old rising star who Jurgen Klinsmann has stated interest in for the U.S. men's national team, is among the 20-player contingent who will be available for selection against former Arsenal star Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls. Zelalem, born in Germany to parents of Ethiopian descent, could become eligible for the USA if his father obtains U.S. citizenship before he turns 18 in January. As SI's Grant Wahl reported last month:
The next recruiting target for Klinsmann and [U.S. assistant coach Andi] Herzog is Gedion Zelalem, a precocious 17-year-old attacking midfielder who has already played for the first team at Arsenal. Born in Germany to Ethiopian parents, Zelalem lived from age 9 to 15 in the Washington D.C. area. If his father, Woldyes, becomes a U.S. citizen before Gedion turns 18 next January—and sources say Woldyes is attempting to do so—then Gedion would automatically become a U.S. citizen per the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
“Gedion is another special talent,” says Klinsmann. “He was in the same [U.S. under-15] camp as my son two years ago, and they spoke German. We’ve followed him throughout this whole stretch and are constantly in touch with him. We watch his games with the [Arsenal] under-19s. We are in touch with [Arsenal executive] Ivan Gazidis and [manager] Arsene Wenger. Our interest is huge in the kid.”
While Zelalem is in the mix for Saturday's game, the likes of World Cup winners Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker; new signing Alexis Sanchez; and France forward Olivier Giroud are not. Midfielders Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta headline the roster from a star standpoint.
Here is Arsenal's match roster in full:
GOALKEEPERS: Damien Martinez, Wojciech Szczesny
DEFENDERS: Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Isaac Hayden, Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Nacho Monreal
MIDFIELDERS: Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Kristoffer Olsson, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jon Toral, Jack Wilshire, Gedion Zelalem
FORWARD: Chuba Akpom