The 18-year-old midfielder is set to feature for the US Under-20s at the World Cup in New Zealand but hopes to be playing for the senior team before long.
Having been cleared to feature for the US Under-20s at the upcoming World Cup, Arsenal’s highly-rated Gedion Zelalem has told ESPN FC that he believe he is already good enough for Jurgen Klinsmann’s senior side.
Zelalem, 18, has been billed as one of Arsenal’s most exciting talents since joining the club in 2013, earning comparisons to former captain Cesc Fabregas and impressing with the first-team during last preseason.
In addition, the Berlin-born midfielder has also been hailed as the USA’s future No. 10 since news that he was eligible for the States first emerged, before committing to his adopted nation upon receiving his citizenship in December.
He was forced to wait several months before his one-time switch became official but, having now received FIFA’s clearance, the former German Under-17 international will get the chance to showcase his potential at the tournament in New Zealand, which kicks off this weekend.
For most, it will be the first time they have seen Zelalem in extended action, given that the Gunners prospect has made just two senior cameos for the club over the past 18 months.
Nevertheless, there are big expectations surrounding him, with US national team boss Klinsmann even declaring in March that the teenager was good enough to walk straight into his squad – a statement which Zelalem himself agrees with.
"Those expectations come from me, as well," he said when asked what he thought of Klinsmann's comments. "It's not just Jurgen. I think I'm good enough to play there, too.
"I wasn't sure where I would be this summer, with Jurgen's team or Tab Ramos' team but for me it didn't matter, because I just wanted to play for the U.S."
Continuing on his decision to switch to the US, where he lived from 2006 to 2013, Zelalem added: "It was purely just a feeling of knowing I was American. My family and friends are there. All along, I only wanted to play for the U.S."
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 the chance to make a deep run into the knockout stages, Zelalem could well prove one of the stars of the tournament but Under-20 boss Tab Ramos is reluctant to put too much pressure on him at this point.
“I certainly don't want the pressure to fall on him, because he's young and because he just got here," said Ramos. "He is a smaller player, and because he's two years younger than some of the players he'll face, there's going to be some physical challenges that he'll lose.
“But that's OK, because he's going to have to figure out how to get the ball first and play it quickly. You have to adjust."