Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta is holding out hope that young striker Folarin Balogun will commit his future to the club and sign a new contract.
The talented 19-year-old's current deal at the Emirates Stadium expires this summer, with a whole host of clubs across Europe thought to be keeping tabs on his situation.
Large swathes of Arsenal's fanbase have been crying out for Arteta to afford Balogun a chance in the first team in a bid to convince him to stay at the club, though he's still yet to be afforded his Premier League debut. Instead, he has been forced to make do with cameo appearances from the bench in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
With the clock ticking on Balogun's time in north London and the England Under-20 international yet to put pen to paper on a new deal, it's becoming increasingly more likely that his future lies away from north London.
However, Arteta, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the weekend clash with Leeds, has refused to give up hope of convincing the teenager to remain at Arsenal, and claims Balogun is keen to sign a new contract.
“I’m still very positive that Flo [Folarin Balogun] is going to stay with us and it’s what we’re trying to do as a club, and it’s what I’m trying to do as a manager,” Arteta told reporters, quoted by the Evening Standard.
“As far as I know from last week, the player wants to be here, so I’m positive. I think he’s made some big progress in a few months.”
Arteta has fast tracked a number of young players into Arsenal's first team after assuming the reins from Unai Emery in December 2019, handing Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe prominent roles.
Both have been in particularly impressive form of late, with the former's consistent performances leading to calls for Gareth Southgate to include him in England's squad for the delayed European Championship this summer.
Balogun may look at their situation as hope that he can make the grade at Arsenal, though he also has fellow young striker Eddie Nketiah vying for a place in the Gunners' first team.
Source : 90min