Decision over Zelalem lies with Wenger
Brady may watch Arsenal youngster during league encounter at Hibernian
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