Zelalem embracing U.S. pressure ahead of All-Star game

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The U.S. youth international says he enjoys the hype surrounding his development as his Arsenal side prepares to face the MLS All-Stars.
The U.S. youth international says he enjoys the hype surrounding his development as his Arsenal side prepares to face the MLS All-Stars.

When Arsenal takes on the MLS All-Stars on Thursday, U.S. national team fans will get a glimpse of potential future star Gedion Zelalem.

The 19-year-old U.S. youth international spent last season on loan at Rangers, where he made 28 league and cup appearances, helping the club gain promotion to the Scottish Premier League.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has already tipped the teenager for great things, even if the player's body needs a bit of maturing first.

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"He might be a bit longer to mature because he is a little bit behind on the body structure," Wenger said of the wiry Zelalem, via MLSSoccer.com. "But I’m sure he will be a great player who matures maybe a bit slowly physically. But overall, I’m convinced that he’ll have a great career."

As a whole, it appears Wenger is a fan of the talent hiding in the U.S. Christian Pulisic made waves at German side Borussia Dortmund last season, and Chelsea purchased center back Matt Miazga last winter.

"Americans have a big quality that they are dedicated — when they do something, they do it 100 percent," Wenger said. "I would have loved to have players coming from here because they have individual responsibility and they are committed."

But how does Zelalem feel about all the attention and pressure?

"I don't feel [the pressure of being an American soccer prodigy], I like it," he said via ESPN FC. "It makes me more confident in my ability."

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