Gedion Zelalem could be eligible to play for the United States as early as this weekend, according to the Washington Post. Steven Goff is reporting that the 17-year-old Arsenal player is in Washington D.C. with his father acquiring U.S. citizenship and a passport.
Zelalem is of Ethopian heritage and was born in Germany, but moved to the Washington D.C. area at the age of nine. It was not long before he became one of the U.S.' most promising youngsters and he was invited to train with the U-15 national team, but he could never play in an official competition because he was not a citizen.
With the U.S. not an option, Zelalem played for the Germany U-15 and U-16 teams and while it was only in friendlies, few expected him to spurn the Germans for the Americans. Earlier this year he was called up to play for Germany in a U-17 qualifier, which would have ruled him out of playing for any country that he did not yet have citizenship -- the U.S. -- but he withdrew from the team.
Now, it appears as if Zelalem is on the verge of citizenship, making him an immediate option for the U.S. Jurgen Klinsmann has succeeded in recruiting dual nationals before and his assistant Andreas Herzog has been spotted at Arsenal training where he was reportedly recruiting Zelalem to join the U.S.
Zelalem is one of Arsenal's best young players, starring for the youth teams and playing so well that he was invited to train with the first team in preseason. There, he impressed further to keep himself in the mix and in January, two days before his 17th birthday, he made his senior team debut as a substitute in an FA Cup match.
Zelalem has been touted as a creative, quick player, who has shone both as a central attacking midfielder and as a winger cutting in. Not only is Zelalem an intriguing prospect to have, but he is also the type of attacking technical player in the center of the pitch that the U.S. has struggled to produce, making the possibility of him joining up with the Americans all the more exciting.
That Zelalem pulled out of the Germany U-17 qualifier was a sign that he may be getting closer to citizenship and hoping to play for the U.S. Now that he is reportedly on the verge of citizenship, that looks likely, but it still won't tie him to the U.S. Klinsmann will still have to seal the deal for him, but at least he looks like an option now..