Sporting KC Acquires 22-year-old Midfielder Gedion Zelalem from EPL’s Arsenal FC
Once a standout youth player who played for both the USA and German National Youth Teams, Gedion Zelalem returns to the USA to play in the MLS after a six-year stint with Arsenal FC of the English Premier League. Zelalem played for both the Arsenal’s youth and senior teams.
Soccer News: Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club has acquired 22-year-old holding midfielder Gedion Zelalem in a transfer from English Premier League side Arsenal FC.
Zelalem is on the Sporting KC roster for the 2019 MLS season with club options for 2020 and 2021.
Born in Berlin, Germany, Zelalem moved to the USA in 2006. A dual citizen of Germany and the United States, the midfielder has represented Germany at the U-15 through U-17 levels before gaining U.S. citizenship in 2014 and competing for the United States U-20s and U-23s.
“Gedion is a talented player and we are excited to welcome him to the club,” Sporting KC Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said. “We look forward to his integration into the squad as the team competes in multiple competitions throughout the season.”
Brian Bliss is the former assistant coach for the U20 Men’s National Team and trained Gedion in several National team programs. Still participating in selected camps with the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team, Brian was on the staff at the successful 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship in November where the team qualified for this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. With an eye for talent, Bliss works closely with Vermes identifying potential players for Sporting KC.
“Brian knows Gedion well and saw this opportunity and really put a lot of work into it and flushed it out with Arsenal,” said Vermes. “When we recruit players to come into the club it is because they have the qualities that fit the way we play … and we have no doubt he has these qualities.”
“A lot of players, believe or not, are excited about the MLS. I don’t think that perception was there three or four years ago, but now it is a respected league,” said Zelalem.
Back from two knee surgeries, the 22-year-old most recently competed for the Arsenal U-23s in early January, returning from an injury last November that he had suffered in the U20 World Cup against Ecuador.
Recovering from two surgeries is an ordeal for anyone, let alone a dedicated soccer player in the early part of his career. When asked what helped him through his recovery, Zelalem said, “Having that self-belief that if I get through this, I will be ok.”
Happy to be in Kansas City and joining the team, Zelalem looks forward to joining the team and being assessed by the coaches.
Did you know …
Zelalem moved from the U.S. to London in early 2013 to join Arsenal’s prestigious academy, rising from the U-16s to the U-21s in his first year with the Gunners. He was part of Arsenal’s senior squad during a July 2013 preseason tour of Asia and made his first-team debut as a substitute in Arsenal’s 4-0 FA Cup victory over Coventry City on Jan. 24, 2014. The following December, Zelalem earned his UEFA Champions League debut in a 4-1 away win against Turkish giants Galatasaray.
His first competitive action with the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team came at the 2015 U-20 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand, where he started four of five appearances and helped the Americans reach the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Serbia.
Arsenal loaned Zelalem to the Rangers FC in Scotland for the 2015-16 season. He logged 28 appearances for the Glasgow club in all competitions, guiding Rangers to the Scottish Challenge Cup title, a first-place finish in the Scottish Championship and subsequent promotion to the top-flight Premier League.
Gedion Zelalem (GEH-dee-on zeh-LAH-lem)
Born: 1/26/1997 (22 years old)
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Citizenship: Germany, USA
Previous Club: Arsenal FC (England)