U.S. citizen Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal called up to Germany's under-18 camp
Germany has called up Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem for its under-18 team camp next week, even though the 18-year-old has expressed interest in playing for the United States.
Zelalem was born in Germany but raised in Maryland. He acquired United States citizenship in December, though he is currently ineligible to play for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. squad while navigating FIFA's complicated waiver laws.
Germany on Tuesday announced incoming players ahead of their U18 squad's two friendlies against France next week, but Zelalem has not confirmed that he has answered the call-up.
An Arsenal spokesman told ESPN FC that Zelalem has not informed the Premier League club whether he will accept the invitation.
U.S. Soccer could receive an exception for Zelalem to play with the Americans, as FIFA can and does allow players to join the national teams of their naturalized countries if they are able to show their naturalization didn't violate the spirit of FIFA's law.
In January, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told ESPN FC that he was hoping the player would be green-lit by April.
Based on precedent, FIFA should declare Zelalem eligible for the U.S., but because the world organizing body has yet to decide, the German Football Association appears to be making a push to claim him while it still can.
In a text message to ESPN FC, a source close to Zelalem wrote on Tuesday: "Only reason he hasn't confirmed [for US] is because of FIFA approval. I think he's set on US, but just waiting for FIFA."
If and when Zelalem does become eligible to play for the United States, manager Jurgen Klinsmann said last week the will walk right into the Americans' first-choice squad.
"I think he's already at a level that he can definitely play on the senior team," Klinsmann said of Zelalem. "He's a special player."
If approved, Zelalem would immediately become a candidate to start for the U.S. at the under-20 World Cup in New Zealand this summer and, if the Americans qualify, for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Information from ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle and Doug McIntyre was used in this report.