Gedion Zelalem is going to play first team soccer next year. Arsenal just aren't sure where yet.
Arsene Wenger said that Zelalem is going to get a chance with the first team in the preseason, but he's not sure what will happen from there. And when asked about a loan ...
"It’s possible," said Wenger. "I always test the players in pre-season and then after that I make an assessment on how close they are to the first team. If he’s not close next year then yes, he needs to play somewhere."
This isn't a surprise at all. Zelalem has trained with the first team and even gotten a couple chances in matches. He's clearly right on the cusp of playing with the top side week in, week out, and after another great season with the youth team, there's little reason for the 18-year-old to stay in the academy. He needs to play for the first team and if he can't crack Arsenal's then a loan to a Championship side or even a lesser quality Premier League team might be in the cards.
As for Zelalem's decision to play for the United States, Wenger supported it because why not?
"I leave the players the freedom to play for the country that their heart is. More and more people have been educated in two or three different countries and it's quite interesting. He's an interesting case because he has been educated until the age of nine in Germany and then from 10 to 15 in the United States. That's maybe the age where you go out of the family and start to have friends. He felt that he wanted to play for the States."