Arsenal and Rangers have confirmed the loan of United States’ U-20 prospect Gedion Zelalem to the Scottish second-division club until Jan. 3, 2016. The 18-year-old midfielder, who spent Sunday visiting Ibrox Stadium, trained with his new teammates on Monday.
The move allows Zelalem to follow in the footsteps of DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Claudio Reyna – prominent U.S. internationals who had an impact in Glasgow. Unlike those U.S. internationals, however, Zelalem arrives at Ibrox with limited experience at senior club level. To date, Zelalem’s exposure to Arsenal’s first team has been limited to an FA Cup appearance in Jan. 2014 and a UEFA Champions League group stage bow in December that year.
Four months with Rangers could finally give fans an extended look at the young American’s potential.
“Playing in front of 50,000 fans will replicate what it will be like at Arsenal, and the media spotlight is also similar,” Zelalem explained.
“The manager wants to play great football too, and they were all factors in my decision to come here.
“Everyone knows the name ‘Glasgow Rangers’ so right away I was interested.”
The Berlin-born prospect, a former Germany U-level international who was also eligible to play for his parent’s birth country of Ethiopia, emigrated to the U.S. with his father in 2006.
Though he left the U.S. to play for Arsenal’s academy in 2013, he applied for a United States passport after obtaining citizenship in late 2014, a step that would allow him to represent the U.S. at international level.
Thanks in part to U.S. Soccer seeking an exemption to FIFA’s rules requiring five years of ongoing residency in a country before international eligibility, Zelalem was approved to represent the U.S. on May 13, 2015.