You know something went wrong when an Arsenal player ends up playing in Major League Soccer in the United States. In this case it was a knee injury for Gedion Zelalem and persistence from Sporting Kansas City which produced a March 11 press conference announcing the newest member of the cub.
Zelalem was born in Berlin, Germany in 1997. He moved with his dad to the United States in 2006. Zelalem played for Germany’s U-15, U-16 and U-17 national teams. He became a United States citizen in 2014. In 2013 he moved to London to join Arsenal’s academy.
Zelalem made a couple of appearances for Arsenal’s senior team before suffering a torn ACL in 2017. He didn’t play much at all the past two seasons after having surgery for the ACL injury and then another surgery to remove scar tissue.
Peter Vermes credits the club’s technical director Brian Bliss for the Zelalem acquisition.
“I dropped him on our discovery list back last year in June or July, thinking about his return and recovery,” Bliss told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s always a positional need for us, so I kept him on the list for a long time. We sought him out in January and felt there was real traction for something to get done. We worked on it a couple of months and were able to get it done.”
An MLS team can add a player to its discovery list if the player is not under contract with another MLS team or subject being acquired by an MLS team by any other means. Any MLS team can sign a player on any team’s discovery list. However, the team whose list the player is on gets the first opportunity to sign the player. If another teams wants to sign the player they must get permission from the team who has the player on its discovery list and pay that team $50,000. If permission is not granted and the team who has the player on its list does not sign the player, that player cannot play in MLS.
Sporting KC held a press conference with Peter Vermes and Gideon Zelalem on Monday to introduce Zelalem.
On Wednesday Sporting Kansas City released a video with more information on Zelalem.
Vermes said that the club will be patient with Zelalem at first to find out where he is at regarding his fitness level. With the club playing in the CONCACAF Champions League in addition to its regular MLS season, they can use as many talented players as they can get.