Mikel Arteta tips Folarin Balogun to fight for first-team spot at Arsenal/Hails Edu for ‘turning’ negotiations
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed his hopes for Folarin Balogun, as the youngster prepares to fight it out for a first-team berth in north London.
The story surrounding the future of hitman Balogun has of course taken centre stage at the Emirates this week.
This comes with the 19-year-old having finally put to bed the long-time speculation centering on his name, by committing to a a new long-term Arsenal deal.
As revealed by transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Balogun has put pen to paper on a contract in north London through 2025, despite the interest of as many as 15 other clubs:
Folarin Balogun has signed his new contract with Arsenal until June 2025, done and completed.
He received more than 15 proposals to sign as a free agent – Bayer Leverkusen made the biggest one. Edu Gaspar and Arteta convinced Balogun to stay and sign a new contract. ⚪️🔴 #AFC https://t.co/qXWfnrp5zW
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 14, 2021
And the prolific attacker, in turn, was swiftly rewarded for his actions by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.
This came in the form of a spot in the club’s first-team squad for their Europa League showdown with Slavia Prague in midweek, with Balogun having even been introduced off the bench late on.
In turn, during his pre-Fulham press conference this weekend, it came as little surprise when Arteta was drawn on his hopes for Balogun moving forward.
The teen has long been viewed as one of the most promising young talents at the Emirates, and no doubt demanded guarantees over playing time before committing his future to Arsenal.
And, if Arteta’s latest comments are anything to go by, then more consistent opportunities at senior level could well soon be forthcoming.
First, when drawn on Balogun’s decision itself, the Gunners boss explained:
‘It’s really important [that he 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.’
‘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.’
From here, Arteta heaped praise on the English youth international, revealing his belief that Balogun will soon ‘be pushing’ the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for a spot in his frontline:
‘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.’
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – MARCH 03: Flo Balogun celebrates scoring his 2nd goal, Arsenal’s 4th, during the Premier League International Cup match between Arsenal FC and AS Monaco FC at Meadow Park on March 03, 2020 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arteta also had time to reveal his gratitude for the work of technical director Edu, in completely turning around the direction of negotiations with Balogun:
‘We needed to link 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 on Balogun: “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.”https://t.co/JpJ7bcZCqS
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) April 17, 2021