Mikel Arteta again expressed his hope that Arsenal can tie Folarin Balogun down to a new contract, and that the 19 year old wants to stay.
The striker bagged his first goal for the club in last night’s 3-0 win over Molde in the Europa League, just over 30 seconds after he came on to replace Eddie Nketiah in the latter stages of the game.
It came after pre-game chatter about his future, with Arteta sounding a positive note about his intentions, and his finish drew praise from the manager who said, “It was well deserved for the boy.
“He is working really hard, he had some difficult months with all the speculation around him but he has handled the situation in a really mature way.
“He wants to stay, we want him to stay, we give him the opportunity and he took it straight away.”
Baloghun declared himself ‘really happy‘ with his first strike for the Gunners, but kept his feet on the ground afterwards, saying, “It’s nice to see the boss showing faith in me.
“It feels like this is good experience for me, I just need to keep on learning, keep on adding to my game and I’m happy that I could contribute today.”
With qualification for the knock-out stages confirmed, it was put to Arteta that the final two games would provide more opportunities for young players, and while acknowledging that, he insisted that he has to find the right blend of youth and experience to give the youngsters the best chance of performing.
“They have had chances even from the first game,” said the Spaniard.
“We decided to give them chances because you have to give them real opportunities. For me to play them in friendly games is not a real chance.
“You have to give them the right competition and you have to surround them with senior players and big players around them.
“Then you can assess whether they’re at the level, whether they have the personality to play at this club, how they react to good and bad moments and this is what we are trying to do.
“To play the next game, they have to earn it, just like everybody else in the squad, because we want to finish first.
“I think we are using our young players well in the competition.”