As special as Gedion Zelalem might seem to those watching the Arsenal preseason tour in Asia, it’s going to be a very long time before the 16-year old becomes a more permanent fixture for the gunners in the Premier League.
There’s certainly plenty of promise, which isn’t just coming from potential. Zelalem is showing he can do things a lot of other, older and more experiences players can’t with his dribbling and his passing, which has been highlights all through their Asian tour.
There are three national teams Zelalem might be able to play for eventually – Ethiopia, Germany (part of the U-16 setup for the Germans at the moment) and the United States. Lets consider Ethiopia out of the picture, but in any case, it’ll be some time before he can feature for either national team’s senior side.
Without any interesting arrivals coming in, as Arsene Wenger keeps his money and cards close to his chest in what more and more looks like a ruse to wait until fans have spent all their money on season tickets and then once again hit them with the known fact of Arsenal not bringing in any of the big names available on the transfer market, getting excited about previously unknown teenagers is all they have left.
For now, the comparisons are starting to fly in, with Cesc Fabregas as the most popular name. As one Arsenal blogger put it – Many players can spot the run of a teammate, but few can find the right pass with such precision and weight. It’s a dangerous comparison to make, because there’s a tendency to over-hype young players, but it’s little wonder that people are mentioning him in the same breath as Cesc Fabregas.
Too soon? Too soon. Zelalem is playing against Indonesia, Thailand and Nagoya Grampus. He has been that impressive because, partially, his opposition isn’t. When you’re grasping for straws, everything new and fresh seems golden, but it’s going to be a very long time before Zelalem impresses in the same way during a league match in front of 60,000 at the Emirates.
However, League Cup matches have long been the place to go to in order to witness the younger talents of Arsenal, who are often full of promise and potential before they actually start playing for the senior team and turn out to be a little less than what they were hyped about.
For now, Zelalem is nothing but false hope, because he wont’ change the way Arsenal’s season turns out by one bit, and his impressive preseason tour doesn’t erase the fact that Arsene Wenger once again hasn’t done anything (Except for 20-year old Yaya Sanogo) to show that he’s a changed man, or that he’s planning on spending the alleged £70 million he has to bring in new players.