De­ci­sion over Ze­lalem lies with Wenger

Brady may watch Arse­nal young­ster dur­ing league en­counter at Hiber­nian

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - CHRIS JACK

RANGERS could dis­cover by the end of next month whether they have a chance of re­tain­ing Arse­nal young­ster Ge­dion Ze­lalem for the re­main­der of the Cham­pi­onship cam­paign. Mark War­bur­ton re­vealed last week that he was keen to keep the mid­fielder at Ibrox be­yond his cur­rent loan spell which is due to ex­pire in Jan­uary and has al­ready held talks with the Pre­mier League club.

Rangers saw off com­pe­ti­tion from sev­eral clubs south of the bor­der to com­plete a deal for Ze­lalem dur­ing the sum­mer and in­ter­est in the 19-year-old will again be high come the turn of the year. The play­maker has made eight ap­pear­ances for War­bur­ton’s side so far this sea­son as he has helped the Light Blues make an im­pres­sive start to the cam­paign.

Former Gun­ners Academy Di­rec­tor Liam Brady could make a per­sonal check on the Emi­rates young­ster when Rangers face Hiber­nian on Sun­day as they look to move 11 points clear at the top of the Cham­pi­onship. The Arse­nal club am­bas­sador ad­mits Rangers are in a good po­si­tion to sign the Amer­i­can youth in­ter­na­tion­al­ist for a sec­ond time as man­ager Arsene Wenger gets set to de­cide the fu­tures of a host of his most promis­ing tal­ents.

“I might come up for the Hibs game on Sun­day and I will also be speak­ing to Mark,” Brady told Her­ald Sport. “He keeps in close touch with the club and he has al­ready made it known that he would like Ge­dion to stay for the sec­ond half of the sea­son. I think if Ge­dion is happy to stay then we would look favourably on that. But it will be en­tirely up to Arsene Wenger at the end of the day.

“I think by the end of Novem­ber we will have a meet­ing about all our loan play­ers and see how they are do­ing. We have to eval­u­ate the next trans­fer win­dow. Ge­dion will be one of those we dis­cuss. A lot de­pends on how Ge­dion him­self feels.

“The most im­por­tant per­son in all of this is the player. If he is not happy some­where then it re­ally doesn’t work for any­one. But if he is happy and play­ing in the team then I think that counts for a lot.”

The in­flu­ence of War­bur­ton was key to Rangers land­ing Ze­lalem in the sum­mer as the highly-rated coach was trusted with de­vel­op­ing one of Arse­nal’s most promis­ing as­sets.

War­bur­ton also com­pleted deals to sign de­fender Do­minic Ball and for­ward Nathan Oduwa from Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and is keen to use the loan mar­ket where pos­si­ble to in­crease the strength and depth of his Ibrox squad. It is a route the former Brent­ford man­ager has gone down for sev­eral years and Brady ad­mits the 53-year-old’s track record will stand Rangers in good stead.

“Mark has done well for us with loan play­ers over the last few years,” he said. “We had Wo­j­ciech Szczesny at Brent­ford, we had Jon To­ral there, and we had Chuba Akpom there.

“So he has had a num­ber of our play­ers and we know that he looks af­ter them well. Mark goes into ev­ery de­tail and that is some­thing that we like.

“He is very metic­u­lous in what he does and we know that when our boys go some­where with him that he will do his best to look af­ter them. We have no hes­i­ta­tion let­ting our play­ers go to him, so it could be the start of some­thing more, I don’t know. We shall see.”

Af­ter miss­ing the Cham­pi­onship games against Falkirk and Queen of the South and the Petro­fac Train­ing Cup quar­ter-fi­nal win over Liv­ingston ear­lier this month, Ze­lalem re­turned to the start­ing line-up against St Mir­ren on Sun­day. He is ex­pected to re­tain his spot for the league en­counter at Easter Road this week­end as War­bur­ton’s side look to take a huge step to­wards ti­tle glory.

Brady , the former Celtic man­ager, is con­fi­dent the mid­fielder will be reap­ing the re­wards of his time in the Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship.

“It is great ex­pe­ri­ence for him to be play­ing for Rangers and to be play­ing in front of 40,000 fans ev­ery home game,” he said. “He is find­ing out how tough foot­ball is be­cause he is play­ing for a team that ev­ery­one wants to beat ev­ery week. He is grow­ing up so it has worked very well so far. I will go up and speak to Ge­dion and see what he thinks. There are some big games in the Cham­pi­onship and there will be cup games as well. They have a semi-fi­nal com­ing up and there will be good games for Ge­dion to play in.”

PLAY­MAKER: Ge­dion Ze­lalem has played in eight games for Rangers this term

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