Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem has been strongly linked with a loan move away from the club but is still at Arsenal ahead of Friday’s U21 clash with Derby County.

Zelalem scored a last minute winner as the U21s got off to a winning start at the Emirates Stadium a week ago, following a summer which saw the midfielder play alongside the first-team in Singapore and win the U19 Durban International tournament alongside his teammates.

The growing reputation of the USA U20 international is exciting for Arsenal fans, and the youngster now feels he is ready to play football at the very highest level.

“I’m used to the first-team players now,” Zelalem said in an interview with Arsenal.com as he looked forward to Friday’s game against Derby County. “They know how I play and I know how they play so hopefully it will only be a matter of time before I break through.

“Maybe I’ll have to go on loan first but hopefully it will happen one day.”

There is little doubting Zelalem’s talent. The midfielder, who first caught the eye as a 16 year-old, is very good technically and possesses fantastic vision.

Over the last few days Zelalem has been linked with a loan move to Rangers and there are also various Championship clubs said to be interested.

The one question would be whether or not he is ready for professional football just yet. For all his ability he is a little slight, but has been working on more physical aspects of his game as he looks to make the step up.

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“I’d say tackling has been one of my weaknesses but I’ve been in the gym a lot over the last season and I’m going to continue to do that this year as well,” said the midfielder.

“It’s definitely helped. I know that I might get kicked around a bit in men’s football so the extra time in the gym will only help.”

Time will tell but it looks like all the right work is being done off the pitch for Zelalem to be as prepared as possible for a step up on the pitch.