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Sporting KC interested in Arsenal and USMNT midfielder Gedion Zelalem

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SKC has the discovery right on Zelalem

Arsenal v Leicester: Premier League 2 Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Just after coming to terms with the recent Ike Opara trade, Sporting Kansas City fans were surprised with another potential shock roster move.

Steven Goff of The Washington Post reports that Sporting KC is “exploring the possibility” of signing Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem. The Blue Testament independently confirmed the club is exploring the opportunity as well.

The 22-year-old central midfielder has long been touted for his potential. He began his youth career in his native Germany where he played for Hertha Berlin, but he gained international notoriety when he joined the Arsenal academy in 2013. He quickly worked his way up to the senior team, making strong showings during the preseason Asia tour in July 2013.

Despite his potential, injuries slowed his development. He never appeared in a Premier League game for Arsenal, although he did play in a 2014 FA Cup victory over Coventry City and appeared as a substitute in a 4-1 road win over Galatasaray in the 2014 UEFA Champions League.

Since 2015, Zelalem has spent time on loan with Rangers Football Club of Scotland and Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

Zelalem made the official switch from representing Germany at the youth international level to the United States in 2015 when he obtained US citizenship. He’s made a total of 15 appearances at the U20 and U23 level for the US Youth National Team.

Editors note: We have confirmed the same basic information about Zelalem. We were told that nothing is imminent, but Sporting KC is exploring the opportunity to acquire Gedion Zelalem. - Thad Bell

Where does he fit in Sporting KC’s midfield?

As most SKC fans know, midfield is perhaps the deepest position on the team. Zelalem typically plays in the #8 central midfield role, although he has played in both attacking and defensive positions.

He almost certainly wouldn’t step into immediate playing time with the likes of Felipe Gutierrez, Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Yohan Croizet, and Kelyn Rowe on the team, not to mention the youngsters in Gianluca Busio and Wan Kuzain. However, Kansas City might be the perfect place for Zelalem to get his career back on track.

He’d likely get plenty of minutes for Sporting KC’s USL affiliate Swope Park Rangers, and he’d certainly have a chance to make the senior team if 16-year-old Gianluca Busio were ever to be sold to Europe as Taylor Twellman suggested. (We have to point out that Peter Vermes downplayed the possibility of a Busio transfer, but if this last week has taught us anything, it’s that anyone on the team is available for the right price.)

So, does this move make sense?

I think so! But, it sounds like SKC are just in the initial stages of exploring their interest in Zelalem. The MLS transfer window doesn’t even open until February 13, so nothing will happen before then at the very earliest.

If a move does happen, it likely won’t lead to any immediate changes for Peter Vermes’ side, but it would be a relatively low-risk, high-reward move that could pay dividends for years to come.