Youth talent at big clubs is like a revolving door.
We sign plenty of promising teenagers, they impress in the Academy or the Under-23’s and they seem set for stardom.
Then, a combination of injury, mentality or plain bad luck put paid to their dreams, and the hopes of fans who look forward to seeing their potential blossom on the pitch.
Now we have another who we kept tabs on closely for a number of years, who has left the club without making the most of his talent. Gedion Zelalem was a mere dot of a lad when he signed for Arsenal in 2013, and the German-born American has now signed for MLS side Sporting Kansas City - after failing to break through to the first team.
We signed a highly-rated youngster that impressed all in the youth teams during his time as a Gunner, and Zelalem looked set to be the latest kid to make the grade at the club.
International recognition followed for Germany at Under17 level, but Zelalem underwent a lengthy process to become a US citizen, and has since played for the country at U20 and U23 level.
All of this was on the foundation of his impressive showings with our youth teams. The inevitable loan deal followed, and Zelalem was shipped off to Rangers for the season of 2015-16. The midfielder/winger made 21 appearances for the Scottish side and generally impressed at this higher level, despite it being the Championship rather than the SPL.
Zelalem had made his senior debut for Arsenal as a substitute in an FA Cup match in 2014, so was well on the path for a full squad place when he returned from Rangers,
The youngster suffered serious injury though, and missed what would be nearly an entire season, and his recovery was a slow one. the path that was on an incline soon plateaued, and Zelalem upon his return was languishing on the fringes of the youth level squad.
Now, Zelalem has signed for Sporting Kansas City, which will give his talent the platform it deserves. He will be able to test whether he is up to scratch in a rapidly improving competition, it is a big shame that he won’t be doing it in an Arsenal jersey.
It is a reminder to our kids at youth level that the career they have chosen can skirt disaster at every turn even if they dedicate themselves completely like Zelalem did. He has been given a golden opportunity that he had to take to continue his career, and we can continue to watch him and see his development.
Good luck Gedion!