Arsenal: Arteta hails youngsters as they ease through
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Mikel Arteta has urged Folarin Balogun to kick on and fight for a first-team place at Arsenal, with the club expected to formally announce that the 19-year-old has signed a new contract until the summer of 2025. Balogun’s immediate future has been up in the air all season with his previous deal set to expire at the end of the current campaign.
However, it seems as though the Hale End academy graduate has finally put pen to paper, ending the long and drawn-out saga regarding his next move.
Balogun has made just six senior appearances for the Gunners this season but has featured heavily for Steve Bould’s under-23 side in Premier League 2.
He has been linked with a number of potential suitors since the turn of the year, including the likes of Liverpool, Bayer Leverkusen and Sheffield United, but Arsenal appear to have convinced the forward to commit to Arteta’s long-term project at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard, who is preparing his side for the visit of Premier League strugglers Fulham on Sunday afternoon, claimed that Balogun’s new deal will benefit both player and club and hailed Arsenal director Edu for his role in achieving a positive resolution to the situation.
“It’s really important [that he has signed a new deal] because it shows that he has enjoyed the time he’s been training with us and that’s why he wants to stay with us,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
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“He sees an opportunity here to have the career that he wants. In all aspects, he knows that we trust him and that we want to have a future together.
“Then, we needed to link that with the people at the club, with the right support from Per and the academy, and with the work that Edu has done over the months to undo what was happening and the direction the situation was taking.
“He has completely turned that over into a position where now the player is going to stay with us.”
Arteta continued, setting Balogun the ambitious challenge of working his way into the first-team setup at Arsenal alongside the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“He’s a very, very hungry boy,” added Arteta. “He wants to do everything. He wants to practice more every single day.
“He has unique qualities as a striker, his speed and the way he holds the ball. He’s a real goal threat and he works tremendously hard.
“He will be pushing anybody in our first team to get his spot and that’s exactly what we want. He’s got the chance, now it’s time for him to prove himself.
“We have to give him the right support, which he will get, and then it’s up to him and what he does on the pitch.”
Balogun scored his first goal for Arsenal in November during the closing minutes of the Europa League group stage victory over Molde, and will be hoping for plenty more over the next four seasons.
The New York-born striker reacted by outlining his aim to make sure he earns additional opportunities to impress in the near future.
“It’s important that I keep working hard to enjoy more moments like this,” Balogun told the club website.
“I didn’t think that particular [break for the goal] was going to be my chance, but I always try to stay ready and I’m happy that on this occasion it paid off.
“It’s been good [to be involved], it’s nice to see the boss showing faith in me. It feels like this is good experience for me.
“I just need to keep on learning, keep on adding to my game and I’m happy that I could contribute today.”
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