Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem certainly can’t be accused of lacking confidence.
The youngster earned quite the reputation with an impressive pre-season in the summer of 2013, starring in games during Arsenal’s Asia Tour. He went on to make his debut the following January, playing 20 minutes in a 4-0 defeat of League One side Coventry City.
His only first team appearance since came as a substitute in what was effectively a dead rubber against Galatasaray in the final group game of last season’s Champions League campaign, and the teenager now wants more.
Speaking to FIFA.com this summer he revealed he wants to play regularly for Arsenal this season, but also said he would look for a loan deal if he wasn’t likely to play.
“I’m going to go back for pre-season and try to get into the first team and play some games,” the midfielder insisted. “If I can do that, great. If not, I’ll look to get out on loan somewhere.
“It’s a dream come true to be at a club like Arsenal and I want to get into the first team this season, play minutes and start matches. I have high expectations of myself and if I was to be starting week in, week out, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Those high expectations are coming to the fore once again, with the midfielder saying he wants to emulate Zinedine Zidane.
During his career Zidane was widely regarded as the best player in the world, and won the Ballon d’Or on one occasion as well at the old FIFA World Player of the Year three times. He won everything, and scored goals in two World Cup finals (1998, 2006) as well as the Champions League final (2002).
Now set for a loan move to Rangers, though there is also interest from clubs in the Football League south of the border, Zelalem could finally have the chance of first-team football and he can’t wait.
“My dream is to become the best player in the world and the player I’d love to be like is Zidane,” the teenager said, clearly unafraid of setting himself too much to live up to.
“I don’t play like anyone, I have a unique style of play. It’s a dream come true to play for Arsenal.
“My plan to get to the first team is to work very hard and keep improving every day. My best moment was making my debut against Coventry because as a little boy I always watched the FA Cup and always wanted to play there.”
It’s clear that the midfielder has nothing but faith in his ability. From the limited amount we’ve had the opportunity to see he looks to have the talent to fit into the Arsenal first-team with no problem, completely unfazed by the quality of players around him.
That attitude is perfect and, when coupled with his talent, it is hard to see what could stop him from reaching the top.
Now seems to be the right time for a loan move with U21 football not challenging enough and the Arsenal first-team squad already having a number of senior midfielders, and hopefully Zelalem excels at professional level.