PHOTO: Arsenal wonderkid Zelalem in pre-season training ahead of tour

Gedion Zelalem

Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem is back in pre-season training. What lies in store for him in 2014/15?

Just like last year, Gedion Zelalem is anxiously hoping he will be chosen to travel on Arsenal's pre-season tour.

Yet this time around, his chances are even greater. Several first team stars are on extended international breaks, while he has an extra year of under-21 football behind him.

Zelalem was pictured yesterday at Arsenal's London Colney training ground, going through his paces and mixing with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby.

It was not always seamless for the under-21 side last season for him, he is after all a 17-year-old kid still developing as a person and a footballer, but he managed to win Arsene Wenger's approval.

Zelalem was granted a first team appearance in the FA Cup in January, and prior to that was an unused substitute in the Premier League in the Autumn.

A player born after Arsene Wenger was appointed as manager, there are great expectations surrounding the teenager.

Most of the hype came from last season's pre-season tour of Asia. Zelalem was given a chance to perform alongside the likes of Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, and shone, with one memorable defence splitting pass providing an assist for the former against Nagoya Grampus Eight.

That pass was a clear sign of his creative potential, but last season for the under-21s in 14 games he registered only one assist, and no goals.

While he is the type of midfielder who likes to sit deep and pull the strings, he will eventually face the same sort of challenge Jack Wilshere is adjusting to now - becoming a player who can convert his talent into deciding big games on a regular basis.

It's why Zelalem will likely spend most of next season with the under-21s again in 'development', gaining a chance to feature in the under-19 UEFA Youth League again.

Capital One Cup opportunities surely beckon, he missed these last season due to injury. 

Firstly however, this chance on pre-season will be the very best opportunity for Zelalem to show what he can do, and demonstrate any extra work he has put in over the summer regarding his fitness.

Arsenal certainly are not light in midfield, and there is no need to rush the youngster through the ranks. 

He can however show fans that Arsene Wenger was right to pass on Cesc Fabregas, having the potential to emulate the former captain, by shining in the pre-season exhibitions, offering fans and manager a glimpse of the future.

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