Mikel Arteta says Folarin Balogun ‘wants to stay’ at Arsenal.
The Gunners boss was speaking after seeing the youngster score his first goal for the club during Thursday night’s 3-0 win at Molde in the Europa League.
Balogun struck just 37 seconds after replacing Eddie Nketiah in Norway, finishing well after being picked out by fellow academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe.
It was his first senior goal in only his second first-team appearance and it comes amid increased speculation over his future.
Balogun is out of contract in 2021 and had looked set to leave last summer after talks over a new deal broke down.
But negotiations have now been resumed with the attacker and Arteta says that the 18-year-old’s desire is to remain in north London.
“He wants to stay, we want him to stay,” said the Arsenal manager. “We gave him the opportunity and he took it straight away.
“It’s well deserved for the boy. He’s working really hard.
“He had some difficult months with all the speculation around him, he’s handled the situation in a really mature way.”
Victory in Molde secured Arsenal’s passage through to the knockout stages of the Europa League with two games to spare.
Nicolas Pepe sent them on the way with an excellent opening goal before Reiss Nelson and Balogun rounded off an impressive night’s work for Arteta’s side.
It was the perfect response from Pepe following his red card at Leeds on Sunday and Arteta was delighted with the Ivory Coast winger’s performance.
“I am really pleased,” he said. “Obviously after the disappointment, something negative, you want to see a reaction and to stand out really quickly.
“I could see from the first minute, from his body language, that he was ready to act. I think he had a great performance. He scored a goal, he could have scored another one or two. He created some great moments in the game and worked really hard for the team. I really liked it. I am really pleased with that.”
The Spaniard added: “We all know where his level is and all the time the question is how often he can get to that level - and how he contributes to other aspects of the game.
“That should be the level that he needs to hit and from there he needs to keep improving, because he is capable of doing it and you can see that every time he gets in those positions, in the final third, he is a real threat and a really difficult player to control.
“He can come with his feet, he can go inside, outside, he can shoot and create crosses. He can go in behind you as well. That’s what we expect from him.”