Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was quizzed about Folarin Balogun in his press conference today ahead of Saturday’s clash against Southampton.
The teenager has less than six months left on his contract and we are at the risk of losing him. Arsenal are trying hard to convince him to stay but Arteta and Edu haven’t quite been able to do that.
It is looking increasingly likely that he will leave at the end of this season. Many fans feel that Arteta is keeping him away from the senior squad because Balogun has refused to extend his deal, but the Arsenal boss has denied that.
He told Arsenal.com: “No. If anything – regarding his contractual situation with the club – I just wanted to convince him that he has a future at the club, not send him the opposite message. We’re trying to get something done because we want him to stay and we have to go step-by-step.”
“I think he’s made some big steps in the last few months, where he wasn’t even training and then he had a few good games for us. So the steps are there in every way and we want to try to keep him.”
“(He hasn’t been in the squad) Because of the competition we have now and because there are other players that haven’t had many minutes and they’ve played in the FA Cup. It takes time. We have to respect that with Eddie, he’s not been playing a lot recently as well and he’s in front of him at the moment and we have to be calm and respectful.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
It looks like Arsenal have given up Balogun. The teenager is one of our brightest prospects, but his demands of immediate game time has left Arteta with no choice but to carry on with the players he has at his disposal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli are all ahead of him at the moment.
Signing a new deal won’t be enough to get him the game time he wants. He will have to put his head down and work hard – just like Emile Smith Rowe has done since the start of the season.