Sporting Kansas City has signed former United States youth international Gedion Zelalem from Arsenal, the club confirmed on Monday.
The 22-year-old midfielder will play with SKC for the 2019 season with the club holding options to renew the deal in 2020 and 2021.
“Gedion is a talented player and we are excited to welcome him to the club,” said Sporting KC manager and sporting director Peter Vermes in a team statement.
“We look forward to his integration into the squad as the team competes in multiple competitions throughout the season.”
Zelalem, who was born in Germany and moved to the United States as a child, made a splash when he joined Arsenal’s academy in 2013 at age 15.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity. The league is growing, and a lot of players have hit me up saying, ‘I want to come to the league, it looks like a good league.’ I can’t wait to play,” Zelalem told ESPN FC after the deal was announced.
“I just spoke to [Vermes]. We were just talking about formations and where he sees me. He sees me in the midfield, in any of the three [positions] really. He just told me to be patient at first, and they’ll assess how my fitness is at the moment, and they’ll go based on that.”
Although he hasn’t yet appeared for the United States senior national team, Zelalem played for the U.S. at the Under-20 World Cup in both 2015 and 2017. However, he suffered a major knee injury in the latter tournament that sidelined him until last year.
Zelalem said the knee now “feels great” and that he is eager to get back playing games.
“I’ve been training since July, I just haven’t had any games at Arsenal, for what I think are different political reasons,” he said. “But I’m ready to go. I feel I’m ready and fit, but you need those minutes, especially after an ACL surgery. Otherwise, I’m good to go.”
He added: “Part of the decision in coming here was to get into the conversation for the national team. But first things first, [I’m here] just to play.”