TRANSFER TRACKER: Signing
Zelalem arrived in MLS last year with Sporting Kansas City via a March 11 transfer from English Premier League side Arsenal, but his contract option wasn’t picked up. That left the 22-year-old free to sign elsewhere.
“Gedion is a very versatile midfielder who can play across multiple positions,” recently-appointed NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “He’s a creative player and possesses very good technique on the ball, which is vital for a midfielder in our system. He’s eager to begin this preseason and we’re ready for him to get into camp and show off who he is as a player.”
Last year at SKC, Zelalem made just nine appearances (five starts) after joining in March.
The former US youth international is still hoping to kick his professional career into second gear, after injuries derailed his trajectory. While at Arsenal, Zelalem was also loaned to Scottish powerhouse Rangers and Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo.
“Even though [Zelalem’s] still in the early portion of his career, he’s gained really valuable experience at multiple clubs across a few different leagues,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said. “He’s also represented the US youth national team in two World Cups, and we think we’ve identified a very talented player who can come in and develop with us and improve our squad.”
NYCFC have already added another American midfielder this offseason, Keaton Parks, on a transfer from Benfica. Otherwise, the Eastern Conference side returns standouts such as Alexander Ring and Maxi Moralez, among others, as they prepare for a Concacaf Champions League debut Feb. 20 at AD San Carlos.
“The club has established a culture and style of play that I’m really looking forward to being a part of,” Zelalem said. “I know they had a great season last year and the team will only go upwards from there. It’s also a great city to live in, but mostly I’m ready to win a lot of soccer matches in 2020.”