Gedion Zelalem was on Arsenal’s game-day roster for Saturday’s Premier League match at Fulham, an unfathomable leap for a 16-year-old midfielder with American ties who did not join the Gunners’ full-time set-up until seven months ago.
Although Zelalem did not enter the 3-1 victory at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, his mere presence on the bench caused a stir in English circles:
Daily Telegraph: “If you haven’t heard of Gideon Zelalem: he is a child. … Perhaps he’s not just a common-or-garden Wenger prodigy but an actual genius who’s going to come on and score a hat-trick.”
Daily Mail: “If Zelalem features for Arsenal before mid-December, he will become the club’s youngest ever player.”
Here Is the City: “While most 16-year-olds will simply be celebrating good GCSE results [academic testing] this weekend, by having a shandy bass and treating themselves to a pick ‘n’ mix at the cinema, Zelalem will instead sit on the bench for a Premier League game for the first time.”
Arsenal message boards:
“Zelalem must be chuffed. Excited for the lad.”
“Lol to those who thought Zelalem wouldn’t get much of a look in at the first team this season. He’ll get his fair share of games I reckon.”
Zelalem, a German citizen of Ethiopian descent who lived in Maryland for six years before relocating to London last fall, has featured with the under-21 squad and joined the first team for preseason competitions.