Arsenal wonderkid Gedion Zelalem is ready for a role in the United States national team, according to current head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The 18-year-old midfielder is yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Gunners, but is already being readied for a fast-track to the senior fold at international level.
Zelalem is also eligible to represent Germany - his place of birth - but after growing up in North America for seven years and attending high school in Maryland he appears to have chosen the USA, having been promised a clearer route to the first-team squad.
"I think he's already at a level that he can definitely play on the senior team," Klinsmann is quoted saying by ESPN. "He's a special player."
The talented teenager made a 45-minute cameo off the bench in a Champions League group stage clash against Galatasaray back in December, but that's as far as opportunities have gone for Zelalem in Arsene Wenger's side this season.
After officially becoming a US citizen last month, the Arsenal academy product still needs approval from FIFA before he can officially play for the United States, but the paperwork is expected to be completed by April, making Zelalem available for inclusion in his new national team at the U20 World Cup in New Zealand this summer.
However, Klinsmann is keen for the player to bypass that youth team and go straight into his senior fold because he's already shown enough potential to cut it at the elite level.
"I want to see how he interacts with the whole group and what level he is," he added. "Definitely I would like to see him with me first."
Likened in playing style to former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas during his formative years in north London, some supporters are perhaps surprised that Zelalem has not featured more regularly in the senior Gunners squad, but given the stiff competition for places he might have to bide his time before being afforded more regular action.
After making his debut in an FA Cup clash against Coventry City in 2014, the precocious young talent was also included on the Arsenal bench for a Premier League game at the tender age of 16, but his very slight frame has perhaps held him back as Wenger tries to protect the player until he's physically ready for the rigours of English top-flight football.
New contract for Bellerin
Meanwhile, another academy product Hector Bellerin is expected to sign a new long-term contract at the Emirates Stadium after an impressive breakthrough in Arsene Wenger's side this year.
The Spain youth international failed to impress whilst on loan at Watford last season, but has seized his opportunity in the Gunners starting XI after injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers paved way for a regular run of games in north London, and now the north London club wants to tie down his long-term future.
Oxlade-Chamberlain injury setback
And finally, Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will spent the next four weeks on the sidelines after scans confirmed the injury suffered in Monday night's FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United was in fact a grade one hamstring tear.
The setback will rule the England international out until early April at least, which could pave way for a potential return of Theo Walcott to the starting line-up.
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