Mikel Arteta has suggested – in comments reported by Football London – that he does not believe that Folarin Balogun has agreed to join another club, as he expressed a hope that he could yet choose to stay at Arsenal.
Balogun’s future continues to prove a talking point in North London. As noted by The Athletic, he is set to be out of contract at the end of the season.
It was suggested that he is yet to agree fresh terms with the Gunners. And it was claimed by The Athletic earlier this month that he was close to signing a pre-contract deal with an unnamed foreign club.
His absence since the Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City in December has done little to quieten speculation. But Arteta has insisted that Arsenal remain hopeful that Balogun could stay.
“He’s showing a real hunger and desire to be with us,” he said, as reported by Football London. “We’re trying to get something done because we want him to stay. 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 and we want to try to keep him.”
The Spaniard was then asked whether Balogun had already agreed a deal elsewhere.
“As far as I know no,” he replied.
TBR View: Arteta needs to put greater faith in Balogun
It is encouraging that Arteta seemingly remains hopeful about the 19-year-old. But it is surely doing Arsenal’s cause few favours not using the teenager more.
He needs to know that the pathway is there. Admittedly, it would be an even bigger kick in the teeth should Arteta play him more often only for the striker to leave in the summer.
But if Balogun really is a talent that Arsenal could build around in years to come, surely it is worth Arteta rolling the dice on that front.