Gedion Zelalem has long been tipped to make the breakthrough into the first-team at Arsenal, but, so far at least, that prediction has failed to come true.
The United States youth international is undoubtedly a superb passer of the ball – that much has been in evidence since he first joined Arsenal – but, having made just four competitive appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, Zelalem is now being sent out on loan again, with Dutch second division side VVV-Venlo his destination.
In making the switch to the Netherlands, Zelalem will join a growing contingent of Arsenal youngsters playing in the country, including Dan Crowley, another starlet who has so far been unable to fulfil his vast potential.
Zelalem is rather unfortunate in that he finds himself behind several talented midfielders at Arsenal, but, even in situations when the Gunners’ options in that area have been limited due to injuries and suspensions, the talented youngster still hasn’t been called upon.
Having gained experience while on loan at Rangers last season it was anticipated that this campaign Zelalem would, at the very least, become increasingly involved with the first-team squad. He has, however, been restricted to two substitute appearances in the EFL Cup, with his situation at times becoming especially frustrating with the prospect having occasionally even failed to get into the starting line-up at U23 level.
This latest loan switch doesn’t signify the end of Zelalem’s Arsenal career and there have been suggestions that he has signed a new contract, but there is certainly a feeling that a lot will have to change in order for him to be given an opportunity at the club.
Zelalem’s game understanding and aforementioned craft of being able to unlock defences with precise passes suggests that, if he was to be thrown into the Arsenal first-team, there is a good chance that he would seize his opportunity, especially as he has shown some significant improvements defensively this campaign.
Now, though, time is running out for Zelalem to be given a chance. All he can do is attempt to make an impact at VVV-Venlo and hope that an opportunity to finally make the breakthrough at Arsenal will follow.