Gedion Zelalem still doesn't have United States citizenship, but he wants to play for the Americans. According to the Washington Post, the 17-year-old Arsenal starlet would rather play for the U.S. instead of Germany and is getting very close to obtaining American citizenship.
Zelalem was born in Germany, but moved to the U.S. as a child. He played soccer in the Washington D.C. area and it was while playing for his local club that Arsenal took notice and signed him. He quickly rose through the Arsenal academy and at 16 years old, made his senior team debut last year.
With such a highly regarded teenager potentially eligible for the U.S., Jurgen Klinsmann made contact and tried to get him to pick the U.S. He played for the Germany U-15, U-16 and U-17 teams in the past and, as such a highly regarded player, many figured he would prefer to play for the defending world champions. But Klinsmann has done a good job recruiting dual nationals and Zelalem may feel an attachment to the U.S., having lived in the country from ages nine to 14.
The problem is that Zelalem didn't have citizenship, and he still doesn't, so he's ineligible for the U.S. But Zelalem's father reportedly was nearing citizenship and Zelalem, being a minor, is eligible for citizenship himself as soon as his father gets it.
"It’s going well" with the citizenship process and there could be "some news in short time," a source told the Post.
Zelalem's father has to get citizenship soon because the player will turn 18 on January 26 and will no longer be a minor, eligible for citizenship strictly through his father. If he can get it by then an Zelalem applies, all should be well and he will be clear to play for the U.S. as soon as he gets his passport.
Zelalem made his Champions League debut for Arsenal on Tuesday, coming off of the bench at halftime in a match that the Gunners had well in hand. It was another big step for the 17-year-old, who Arsene Wenger has reportedly spoken highly of.
All is going well for Zelalem at the club level. Now it's about sorting out his international future and, if he has it his way, it looks like that means picking the U.S. He just needs citizenship and a passport to make it happen.