Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem cleared for USA action, heading to Under-20 World Cup

Gedion Zelalem

The 18-year-old midfielder is set to feature in New Zealand this summer after receiving FIFA's clearance to play for the States.

Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem is heading to this summer’s Under-20 World Cup after getting FIFA’s clearance to represent the USA.

US Under-20 head coach Tab Ramos named an initial 20-man squad last week for the tournament in New Zealand, which runs from May 30 to June 20, leaving one spot open while the team awaited word on Zelalem’s status.

The Berlin-born midfielder, who lived in the States between 2006 and 2013 before moving to Arsenal, has had the American soccer sphere talking ever since he emerged as a potential option for them, and had been awaiting the go-ahead to turn out for his adopted nation since becoming a US citizen in December.

With the official roster deadline falling on May 15, it was touch and go whether the former German Under-17 international would receive clearance in time to feature in New Zealand, but he will now form part of what looks like a formidable squad on paper.

Speaking to US Soccer, Ramos said: “I’m very excited about this particular group. It was very difficult making the final decision because there were quite a few players who deserved to go to the World Cup.

“Unfortunately, in the end I can only select a certain number, and I’m very happy with the selections that we made.”

The US will kick off their World Cup campaign on May 30 against Myanmar, before rounding out the group stage with games against hosts New Zealand and Ukraine on June 2 and 5, respectively.

With Zelalem now on board, their chances of making a deep run into the knockout rounds should receive a considerable boost, given that senior boss Jurgen Klinsmann has even claimed that he is talented enough to walk straight into his own side.

The Gunners prospect, 18, has just two first-team appearances under his belt but there are big expectations for what he can achieve on both the club and international stage and the upcoming tournament will prove a good test of whether the excitement is indeed warranted.

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