Just when you thought Julian Green would be the recruiting coup to end all recruiting coups by Jurgen Klinsmann, now there are rumblings that another high-profile young player could be choosing to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team over Germany among other options.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that highly-regarded Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem was recently in the United States to finalize his American citizenship and receive his American passport, which would make him eligible to play for the United States.
Zelalem appeared destined to play for Germany after taking part in the German youth national team set-up recently, but a decision to avoid playing for the German Under-17 national team in European Championship qualifiers kept him from losing the option of playing for the United States (if he had played for Germany he would have lost the option of filing a one-time switch to the United States because he wouldn’t have been an American citizen yet before representing Germany).
If Zelalem has indeed secured his American passport he would now have the option of playing for the United States, Germany or Ethiopia, and while the Washington Post report doesn’t offer any evidence of Zelalem’s intentions, the fact that the U.S. is still a possibility for such a highly-rated prospect.
A skilled central midfielder who has already signed a first-team contract with Arsenal, Zelalem is considered one of the top midfield prospects in the Gunners system. Zelalem was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents, and spent part of his early youth living in Germany, but he also spent six of his formative years living in the United States, where he was discovered by Arsenal scouts.
Jurgen Klinsmann has done a good job of recruiting dual nationals to play for the United States, such as Aron Johannsson and most recently Julian Green, and it is believed he has also worked toward trying to secure the services of Zelalem as well as German youth national team forward Shawn Parker.
Though the 17-year-old midfielder isn’t really an option for the 2014 World Cup, Zelalem could be a major addition to the U.S. national team’s options heading toward the 2016 Olympics, and beyond.
Of course, at this point there is no guarantee Zelalem will play for the United States, but the fact he has kept his options open has to be a positive sign for Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer in general.
What do you think of this development? See Zelalem being an impact player? Still think he will ultimately play for Germany?
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