Arsenal have confirmed that 19-year-old goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo has signed a new contract and will be part of the first team squad next season.
The 6’6″ stopper was a regular at under-23 level last season and is highly regarded inside the club.
On the decision to tie down Okonkwo, manager Mikel Arteta said: “We welcome Arthur to the first-team squad. We are so happy another academy player has come through our system at the club. Together with Arthur’s huge talent and hard work, we thank our colleagues at the academy for developing Arthur in recent years to get to this stage, they are doing great work with the players’ development here and should be really proud.
“Arthur was working and travelling a lot with the first team last season and we have all seen his quality at first hand. He is a strong young goalkeeper with great potential and we’re so pleased he has signed a new deal. He has absolutely earned his place in the first-team squad.
“Arthur will now join us every single day in training, where we look forward to watching him continue to develop and improve his goalkeeping. I know all our fans will join me in congratulating Arthur on this positive step in his career.”
Technical director Edu, also confirmed that Okonkwo will be the club’s third-choice keeper.
“It’s great that we have our third goalkeeper who has progressed from our academy and we look forward to seeing more young players coming through,” he said. “Arthur has worked hard to get this far and we’re confident he’ll have an exciting future.”
Given Bernd Leno will miss the start of pre-season having been on international duty with Germany and Alex Runarsson is expected to leave the club, possibly for Turkey, the Gunners are desperately short of personnel to actually play in goal during pre-season.
While the search for backup to Leno continues, Okonkwo will presumably get minutes in the upcoming matches with Hibernian and Rangers. Good luck to him.