Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem is out for up to nine months after the US international ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee earlier this week.
The 20-year-old midfielder was on international duty with the US during the on-going U-20 World Cup in South Korea, where Zelalem was forced off just half-an-hour in the US’ first match of the tournament against Ecuador on Monday.
It is now being reported that the cause of Zelalem's early withdrawal in America’s opening game of the tournament was because of an ACL injury.
High hopes from the start
If true, the injury could mean that Zelalem’s chances of making it into the Arsenal first-team - like so many had predicted in the past - could be all but over, despite the midfielder signing a new long-term contract with the Gunners in January.
Zelalem was once on the most highly-rated youngsters in Arsenal’s academy, making his Arsenal debut two days before his 17th birthday in the FA Cup in a 4-0 at home against Coventry City, but since then Zelalem has failed to make any sort of push into the Arsenal first-team.
Loan spells away
Despite a successful loan spell, Zelalem was still not seen as a player that would fit in Arsène Wenger’s squad for the 2016/17 season, with the central midfield stacked with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, and summer signing, Granit Xhaka.
Zelalem was again loaned out in the January transfer window, this time to Dutch side VVV-Venlo in the Jupiler League, helping the side finish top of the Eerste Divisie table, and securing VVV-Venlo’s place back in the Eredivisie for the first time since 2013.