Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Arsenal are trying to persuade Folarin Balogun to stay at the Emirates.
Both parties had parked contract talks after negotiations hit and impasse earlier in the year and the 19-year-old looked set to leave the club in the summer. Since then relations have thawed with the striker handed his senior debut against Dundalk after training regularly with the senior squad. He’s also travelled to Norway for tomorrow’s clash with Molde.
While it sounds like a deal to retain the Academy graduate hasn’t yet been reached, the boss spoke openly about his desire to retain Balogun’s services.
“Yes, he is a player that I want,” said the boss on Wednesday. “He is a player that I want to stay at the club. I love working with young players.
“You can see the talent is there, the ambition is there and he can fit with our stricture and progress in the future. He’s part of the DNA and myself and the club are working to try to extend his contract.
“We’re trying to change the situation that we are in at the moment with him, and trying to convince him that this is the right place for him.”
There have been suggestions in some quarters that the imminent departure of Huss Fahmy – who led the previous round of talks with Balogun – may have soothed a return to the negotiation table. Asked what has prompted the resumption of talks, Arteta made clear that it was down to the player’s potential.
“I have decided that I want to keep the player,” he said. “The moment that I started to see more of the player and change certain things that I didn’t agree with, we decided to give it a go, tried to convince the player, try to show him what we want to do with him, why he fits in with what we are trying to do at the club.
“The young talent and the top talent that we produce at the academy is with the final aim to put them in the first team.
“When I signed for this club it was one of the things that excited me the most because I love to work with them and it’s part of our DNA and the history of the club. When we have them, let’s keep them and we really think they are players that can take us to the next level.”