Arsenal wonderkid Zelalem stars v Spain in u17 youth international

Gedion Zelalem

Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem has tested himself against some of the most talented youngsters in his age group.

Arsenal played an under-21 game last night, but perhaps their most prized young asset, Gedion Zelalem was nowhere to be seen.

There was a quite simple explanation, the teenager was on international duty - making his first ever under-17 appearance for Germany.

Zelalem is also eligible to play for USA and Ethiopia, but has shown no sign so far from deviating from his intention to represent Germany, having made 10 appearances in total for the under-15 and under-16 sides.

He was selected as a starter in a match which took place at 10am on Tuesday morning in Wetzlar, Germany, against Spain's under-17 side.

Zelalem was picked in a 'number 10' role, behind the striker, just like the one he occupied in Arsenal's under-19s 2-2 UEFA Youth League draw with Borussia Dortmund last week.

This game was only his second match since returning from injury which kept him out for six weeks in early Autumn, and again he completed the full 90 minutes.

Only 16, he is used to performing in matches with players well above his age group and even the first team in pre-season, so it will have been a good experience for the midfielder to feature among his peers.

The Spanish starters included new Liverpool new additions Sergi Canos and Pedro Chirivella, who also completed the 90.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Zelalem featuring prominently throughout, and was clearly very satisfied with the result after the match.

Games like this add to the footballing education of players on both sides, and boosts young players sense of belonging. Speaking to and mixing with fellow youngsters who are at clubs without the facilities Arsenal have will also make him realise how lucky he is to be at Arsenal.

His progression to the German under-17 set up is a big step, and if he continues his current rapid development as he has at Arsenal, it may not be too long until he joins Serge Gnabry in the under-19s.

Check out a photo of Zelalem in action in the game by clicking here.

image: © Kieran Clarke

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