Temporary demotions should incentivise Bielik and Zelalem



Arsenal have updated their squad list ahead of the new season, with Gedion Zelalem and Krystian Bielik both relinquishing their first-team status, but it is surely only a matter of time before the talented youngsters will be back in the senior set-up.

Both Zelalem and Bielik had been listed as official members of the first-team squad for some time, but the pair are now classed as youth-team players for the 2015/16 campaign. That is no reflection on their performance levels but does perhaps indicate that neither player is as close to the first-team as was previously envisaged, with Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide now appearing to be the youngsters who are on the verge of promotion.

Bielik has had to endure plenty of frustration since his high-profile arrival from Legia Warsaw in the January transfer window. The youngster had to wait to make his debut for the club because of paperwork issues and has struggled with a niggling injury that disrupted his pre-season preparations.

The Polish youth international did, though, show some encouraging signs during his appearances for the U21s last season, particularly when he was deployed in his preferred defensive-midfield position. A good passer of the ball and an intelligent reader of the game, Bielik is tipped for an incredibly bright future, although at present he is effectively fourth choice in his position behind Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.

Zelalem is facing a similar problem in terms of senior competition, with an abundance of established midfielders currently ahead of him. The United States youth international is, though, determined to showcase his talent and has been especially impressive for the U19s in South Africa recently.

With Dan Crowley having joined Barnsley on loan, a space should open up for Zelalem to establish himself as the primary creative force for Arsenal at U21 level this season; something he should thrive upon. His penchant for unlocking defences with precise through-balls remains very much intact, but unlocking the door to the Arsenal first-team will be a considerably tougher challenge.

Today’s news indicates that Bielik and Zelalem are likely to feature predominantly for the U21s this season as opposed to being in and around the first-team. That’s not to say that they won’t be involved in the senior set-up at all, however, with both players likely to be involved in the Capital One Cup squad.

Such is the competition for places in the squad, it is going to be challenging for both players to command regular first-team game time this season, especially when their lack of experience at the top level is taken into account. This should be classed as a season of development for both players, who, let’s not forget, are still very young and have plenty of time ahead of them to make the breakthrough in the future.



  1. Both players, Bielik and Zelalem, should show patience and have a determination to perform at their highest ability when turning out for the Under-21s and/or Under-19s. Together with those on loan, including Crowley, Maitland-Niles, Toral and even Akpom and Hayden from the First Team, could well be very much involved with the First Team next season as a few very Senior players may make way for these Juniors next summer.

    Jeorge, any more Academy players due to go out on loan this season? I see we have 4 goalkeepers listed there, and are we a bit thin on the Defensive lineup?

    1. Yeah we could certainly do with more defensive players, although some players could step up from the U18s. I think Kamara could go on loan at some point.

      On Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 2:37 PM, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


      1. Thanks Jeorge. When could we expect the list of new Scholars be added to the Acadamy line-up?

        I see that Reine-Adelaide has already been included. Would the other newly acquired players from overseas only be recruited as Scholars?

  2. I think it is easy to forget how young Zelalem is. The hype when he joined was massive, very hard for anyone to live up to. Still got time on his side, and imo he has shown improvements in the last year.
    Bielik plays in a position where experience is as key as anything. Definitely need maturity there, and playing at CB will help him a lot I think. Again, he has a lot of time on his side if (as someone said already) he has patience.
    I think these days we are all a bit impatient, wanting players to be involved in the first team or sent on loan rather than developing in our system below the first team.

  3. Talk on some forums of Emi Martinez also going to Hull on a season long loan deal, and that Arsenal will then confirm signing on a 1 year deal for Marco Amelia ( to be 3rd choice).
    Probably rubbish but would make sense to give Martinez games. Looked very sharp in emirates cup this year.
    Jeorge, have you heard any word on these loans?

  4. Martinez looks a very good prospect I think any loan we’re he gets games week in week out like sczcnesy at bentford

  5. Jeorge, have you heard any whispers re; Campbell and Wellington yet?

    Is there any possibility that either or both will stay with us, at least until up to January?

  6. I think belike and zelalem could complement each other one very good in defence the other is good in attaking Arsenal got good potential with two three years time there will be plenty very good players

  7. Wondering if wenger has decided that gnabry. Campbell and wellington are currently better options than akpom for first team duty. It seems so strange that one week wenger was saying he was going nowhere and akpom saying he was staying to fight and then all of a sudden he is going. But then again, weay be collecting a loan fee that is too good to turn down, bit like Jenkinson deal?

    Have to say a midfield of bielik, zelalem, Bennacer, adelaide and gnabry playing behind iwobi for the u21s is pretty exciting.

  8. We got Adelaide who look much better in every way. Only 17 years old but looks much more promising. Thats why we don´t need Akpom in the team. Second of all Iwobi is also better than Akpom and probably can play upfront too.

    I have seen Bielik play and I am not impressed. I think Kamara is just as good. But when he is injured and Hayden gone I don´t know who else that can play there.

  9. 0-0 at half time

    Arsenal Under-19s v VfB: Huddart, O’Connor, Chatzitheodoridis, Dasilva, Osei-Tutu, Mourgos, Pileas, Donovan, Sheaf, Hinds, Fortune
    subs: Keto, Eyoma, M. Bola, T. Bola, Pleguezuelo, Zelalem, Willock.

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