Arsenal coach singles out one way for Gedion Zelalem to improve

Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal is tipped for the top, but what's holding him back from the first team right now?

Gedion Zelalem's star quality is already apparent, despite him only just turning 17.

Hailed as the new Fabregas a year ago, he only made his first under-21 start at the end of the season, and it wasn't long before he was mixing it with the seniors on pre-season tour.

Less than 12 months later, he was already been named on the bench for a Premier League game, and made an appearance for the first team in the FA Cup.

Close to the first team, he's savoured it, but there's no more of that to be had for now, it would seem, with intensity building ahead of a Premier League title challenge during the season's final games, and the latter stages of a FA Cup run too.

Instead he is back playing with the youth sides, with also Serge Gnabry playing for the under-19s in the UEFA Youth League, and under-21 team.

Having missed a spell at the start of the season with injury, he now has four appearances in the UEFA competition, and five in the under-21s.

Coach of the under-19s Steve Gatting is still adamant there is work to be done before the teenager can step up further just yet, centring on improving his physical strength.

He told "He's trained with the first team but these games are of a good level and so is the under-21 league. Gedion will improve his power and strength by playing in these games and it's a great experience for him."

Zelalem does not possess the same strong natural build which teammate Serge Gnabry does, and no doubt the Arsenal staff have him working hard in the gym to strengthen so that he is better equipped for his inevitable step up to the Premier League.

Games such as the competitive youth fixtures particularly in Europe, are ones where his progress can be tested, while Arsene Wenger watched on last night as the Gunners set up an intriguing tie against Barcelona.

With Mesut Ozil showing signs of fatigue, should the same occur next season, it could be that Zelalem is asked to step up and show what he can do.

image: © Kieran Clarke

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