By Dominic Toner
Arsene Wenger has backed Gedion Zelalem to make the most of his time at Arsenal.
The 19-year-old spent last season on loan at Rangers gaining crucial first-time experience and returned eight goals in his 28 appearances in all competitions.
The youngster was a part of the Rangers squad which cruised to the Scottish Championship title, but he has returned to pre-season with parent club Arsenal
“Last season he was on loan at Glasgow Rangers, where he did quite well. He is a player with top quality,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website.
“He might take a bit longer to mature because he was physically a little bit behind on body structure but I’m sure he will be a great player. He [matured a bit slowly] physically but overall I’m convinced that he will make a great career.”
Zelalem revealed in April to the Scottish Sun that he would be prepared to return to Rangers if he does not manage to make a breakthrough in the Arsenal set up during this pre-season.
The central midfielder is currently training with the Arsenal squad and could feature in their friendly against MLS All-Stars on Friday.
It would take a remarkable pre-season effort to see the youngster make the jump up to the senior side as he has only made two senior appearances to date, and the club boasts several talented midfielder options.
Jack Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and latest addition Granit Xhaka would all be in Zelalem’s way for a place in Wenger’s squad, but he will hope to replicate his form from the Scottish league and take it from there.
Arsenal begin their Premier League season against rivals Liverpool on 14 August and Wenger will have many midfield options to select from.
In other Arsenal team news, Wilshire believes that their new £30million signing will hold the midfield together.