Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that the club's emerging midfielder Gedion Zelalem could leave the Emirates Stadium on loan next season, but insisted he'll use pre-season to assess whether or not the player has made any further strides towards the first-team.
Speaking in an interview with American publication Pro Soccer Talk the French tactician was quizzed about the 18-year-old's role in north London, to which he responded positively about the talented teenager's prospects of becoming a Premier League star of the future.
The US based news outlet has a vested interest in Zelalem's development after he recently committed himself to representing Jurgen Klinsmann's national team, so it's understandable that reporters across the pond are keen for a scoop on what the future holds for the burgeoning talent.
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“It is possible [a loan move] but I always test the players in pre-season,” confirmed Wenger. “After pre-season I make an assessment on how close they are to the first team.
"If he is not close next year then yes, he needs to play somewhere.”
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With competition for places in Arsenal's starting XI - particularly in the midfield area - arguably at an all-time high, Zelalem might find it difficult to break into the side that on the whole has performed so well for the majority of 2015.
However, Wenger will be conscious of not wanting to stall the starlet's development and that's why he will probably be open to letting the player leave on a temporary deal, in order to continue honing his skills with the opportunity to play regular senior football.
The 65-year-old is renowned for successfully nurturing up-and-coming stars of the future, and Zelalem is hoping to become the latest in a long list of players that have gone on to forge promising careers in professional football.
Zelalem made his first-team debut for Arsenal in a 4-0 victory over Coventry City in the FA Cup in January last year, but he had to wait almost a year for his next appearance when he was surprisingly picked to play against Galatasaray in the Champions League group stages this season.
The youngster showed glimpses of his potential in that 4-1 win in what turned out to be a hostile atmosphere in Turkey, but he's not featured for the Gunners again as Wenger errs on the side of caution.
Asked for his opinion on what influence USA boss Klinsmann could have on Zelalem on the international scene, the Arsenal chief was very complimentary about his fellow coach, adding that he thinks working with the former Germany striker will only benefit him.
“Jurgen has all the knowledge that is needed at the top level," he said. "He has now started to have a good experience as a coach as well. It will be fantastic for him [Zelalem].”
Arsenal fans: Do you expect to see Gedion Zelalem in Arsene Wenger's first-team next season? Or, do you think he'd be better off leaving the club on loan? Have your say below...