Mikel Arteta has acknowledged that Folarin Balogun’s future may well have been somewhere else other than Arsenal, but has credited Per Mertesacker and Technical Director Edu for turning things around.
The exciting young forward is out of contract in the summer, and while there’s been no official announcement yet about his new deal, the fact that the manager is talking so openly about the player is a sign things have been sorted out.
Yet, with a host of clubs looking to take him on, the management team at the club had to work hard to convince the 19 year old that North London was the place to be.
“In all aspects, he knows that we trust him and that we want to have a future together,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“Then, we needed to link that with the people at the club, with the right support from Per and the academy, and with the work that Edu has done over the months to undo what was happening and the direction the situation was taking.
“He has completely turned that over into a position where now the player is going to stay with us.”
Fair play Edu for that, and Arteta sounds excited about what Balogun can bring to his squad in the future, perhaps even between now and May as we manage the team with Europa League semi-finals in mind.
“He’s a very, very hungry boy,” he continued. “He wants to do everything. He wants to practice more every single day.
“He has unique qualities as a striker – his speed and the way he holds the ball. He’s a real goal threat and he works tremendously hard.
“He will be pushing anybody in our first team to get his spot and that’s exactly what we want.
“He’s got the chance, now it’s time for him to prove himself. We have to give him the right support, which he will get, and then it’s up to him and what he does on the pitch.”
With doubts over the futures of both Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette, both of whom have just 12 months left on their deals come the summer, and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not getting any younger, there’s a definite pathway for Balogun to stake his claim.
Let’s hope he can fulfil that potential.