Zelalem follows in Wilshere’s footsteps by earning swift promotion

Gedion Zelalem’s potential is such that it hardly came as a surprise yesterday when it was announced that the youngster, along with his compatriot Serge Gnabry, has officially been promoted to Arsenal’s first-team squad for this season.

Whilst it is an achievement for many first-year scholars to even break into the U21 side during their first full season at the club, Zelalem has followed in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere in being promoted to the senior side before he is eligible to sign a professional contract.

Masashi Hara/Getty Images AsiaPac

Masashi Hara/Getty Images AsiaPac

A series of impressive performances during the club’s Asia Tour, which included several tantalising glimpses of his passing ability, confirmed to manager Arsene Wenger that the Germany youth international is ready to be part of his plans for the campaign.

Zelalem is yet to make his competitive debut for the club, but that moment will come soon enough, potentially later this month in the Capital One Cup away to West Bromwich Albion. One problem that the midfielder has had to contend with so far this season, however, is a lack of game time, as he has not featured at any level due to training and travelling with the first-team.

Wenger memorably remarked during Wilshere’s maiden campaign in the first-team that he did not want the youngster to become a “professional bench warmer” and that sentiment could apply to Zelalem as well, with the former Olney Rangers player set to still turn out for the club in the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup, as well as featuring intermittently for the U21s.

As for his involvement in senior competitions, Zelalem could see much action in the two domestic cup competitions, whilst, depending on injuries to others, he could also feature as a late substitute in the Premier League and Champions League, as Wilshere did in the 2008/09 season.

In fact, if he features in the Premier League within the next month, then Zelalem will eclipse Wilshere as Arsenal’s youngest ever league player, although Cesc Fabregas will retain his status as the youngest player to ever feature for the first-team.

Wilshere and Fabregas both managed to build upon their early starts by establishing themselves as key midfielders for Arsenal and it is hoped that, given the necessary time, Zelalem will eventually follow suit.




  1. That Is Fantastic, I once Saw Giddy Playing In The Preseason and His Game Was Wow! What about Akpom? It would have been a good addition too!

  2. May seem a bit of a strange thought but any chance zelalem could develop into a busquets style dm in the future? Obviously not at present owing to his slight frame but he’s got great intelligence and it’ll sort of add an extra dimension to his vision. He seems the type who likes dictating the tempo of the game too and while I’m sure he can dribble very well I think his attributes will be best suited, in our current formation, to what Arteta does.

    1. Maybe, see how he develops physically. Right now I think hes on course to be a 6 footer, if he adds strength he could do. Interesting thing is his stamina, hes got great natural stamina, it could be very good for teamwork, he could constantly be on the move for 90 mins supporting his teammates on the ball without tiring. Like xavi in his prime, only instead of doping, hes got Ethiopian genes

    2. You mean more like Arteta or Xabi Alonso…

      Also Zelalem is only 16 and as such is sure to be much more muscular and explosive by the time he is 23-24. If you go back you can see the same with Fabregas – by the time he left he was capable of playing DM in the same style as Arteta. And Wilshere too was actually fairly slim at 16, but look at him now!

      1. I hate all this comparison stuff. Let’s face it really is anyone really like anyone unless they are identical twins. Similarities exist always as do mannerisms but I believe that its more that people want to believe a player is like another. For years I have read about the next vieira or even the next bobby moore, maradonna, etc. But in truth every player is different.
        For me there will only be one liam brady or dennis bergkamp no matter how many jack wilshires come through or mesut ozils. but then again there will only be one jack wilshire, one mesut ozil and of course one santi cazorla or one thierry henry.
        One thing for sure we all hope is there is never another squillaci, park, silvestre, cygan etc etc.

  3. He should play 45min for the U21 but we are short in midfield so maybe Wenger wont risk it. I can’t see him play in PL. He needs to eat and lift weight like crazy.

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