Arsenal starlet Gedion Zelalem has agreed a loan switch to VVV-Venlo for the remainder of the season. The Dutch second-tier outfit's technical director said that they originally tried to sign someone from partner club West Ham, but turned their attention to the Gunners midfielder as the Hammers "couldn't offer" what they were looking for.
Zelalem, 20, joined Arsenal in 2013 as a prospect for the future and made his first-team debut a year later, replacing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a FA Cup encounter with Coventry in January 2014.
The Germany-born midfielder was seen as one of the potential jewels in Arsenal's academy, but has struggled to break through into Arsene Wenger's first-team.
Zelalem spent last season on loan at Rangers and Arsenal have now decided to send him to VVV Venlo after he made just two appearances during the first part of the 2016-17 campaign, coming off the bench in the EFL Cup wins over Nottingham Forest and Reading.
"Gedion Zelalem will spend the rest of this season on loan at Eerste Divisie side VVV Venlo," Arsenal confirmed. "The 20-year-old midfielder spent the 2015/16 campaign with Rangers, making 21 league appearances for Mark Warburton's side as they earned promotion back to the Scottish Premiership."
VVV Venlo are currently at the top of the Eerste Divisie and will hope that the addition of Zelalem earns them promotion to the top flight.
The Dutch club have a partnership with West Ham but club technical director, Stan Valckx, explained that the Hammers failed to offer them a player like Zelalem to bolster their current ranks.
"Initially we consulted our partner club West Ham but they couldn't offer us this type of player," Stan Valckx said to the club website. "We were always looking for good bargains, and now this unique opportunity arose. We took this chance with both hands. Looking at the games we still have to play, and looking at the depth of our squad, Gedion is a welcome enforcement."