The Gideon Zelalem show excites Arsenal fans
There was little to glean from Arsenal‘s 7-0 and 7-1 wins over an Indonesian ‘Dream Team’ and Vietnam. The games were mainly about commercial interests in the region and getting some all-important game time under the belts of the players. Having said that, the performances of some of the younger players were of significant interest, primarily that of 16-year-old Gideon Zelalem.
The Germany youth international, who was spotted by Arsenal whilst playing in the USA, is a technically gifted ball player, who likes to operate in a ‘No.10′ role.
At just 16, he is still developing physically and his very slight build means it might be one or two years before he is truly able to control a game, as the desire from the opposing sides, especially in England, will be to boot him out of the game.
That being said, he doesn’t look afraid to put himself about, and besides, to kick him they’ve got to get close to him first. Similar to Jack Wilshere in that he has incredible close ball control, he often found himself in a spot of trouble, only to make a swift turn and find himself in acres of space.
But the most impressive aspect of his game is his vision. Whilst managers and players alike are often loathe to hype a player up, I don’t have such a responsibility. It’s really quite incredible. Usually, when you are watching on TV, you are able to see passes that the players can’t, due to the wider view you have of the game.
In the first game, Zelalem picked out a through ball to Thomas Eisfeld that left me stunned. With the outside of his boot, he eliminated three players from the game and sent Eisfeld clear, oh, and it was perfectly weighted. Even watching the replays, I was amazed at how he’d managed to pick that ball out.
This trend continued in the second game, as he continued to show his eye for the final pass. A sublime ‘no-look’ through ball to Chamberlain set up the easiest of second goals for Chuba Akpom, and were it not for the wastefulness of some of his colleagues, he could’ve racked up the assists during a remarkably impressive performance.
Arsene Wenger and his coaching team clearly rate him highly, as they have taken him on tour at 16 and given him 90 minutes in his preferred position over the first two games. With the next two pre-season games in Japan sure to offer more of a challenge, it will be interesting to see how Wenger utilises Zelalem, and whether he continues to get the same level of opportunities.
His appearances in the first team are likely to be limited to the Capital One Cup this season, and if he plays, it will be very interesting to see how he copes with the extremely physical battle that surely awaits him. In the main though, Zelalem will be looking to impress in the Under 21′s league and the NextGen Series.
The future is extremely bright for this young man. Remember the name Gideon Zelalem.