Arteta convincing Balogun to stay at Arsenal despite lack of playing time

7:39 PM WAT 21/01/2021
Folarin Balogun Arsenal
The Anglo-Nigerian forward is in the final six months of his contract and might leave the Emirates Stadium as a free agent in June

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he is trying to convince Folarin Balogun to remain at the club by inviting him to first-team training sessions.

Although he has not been included in the Premier League matchday squad, the 19-year-old had been introduced as substitute in the Europa League and League Cup this season.

Balogun has developed through the ranks at the Emirates Stadium but his contract is set to expire in June and both parties are stalled on contract renewal talks.

He has shone for Arsenal U23s in this campaign, however, his last competitive outing for Mikel Arteta's side was back in December when he came on as a 77th-minute substitute in the 4-1 League Cup defeat to Manchester City.

When asked if Balogun's lack of appearances is due to his contract situation, Arteta said in his press conference; “No. If anything - regarding his contractual situation with the club - I just wanted to convince him that he has a future at the club, not send him the opposite message.

“Before he wasn't training with the first team, we changed that and he's been training with us a lot. He's improving every single day, he's showing a real hunger and decided to be with us. We're trying to get something done because we want him to stay and we have to go step-by-step.

“I think he's made some big steps in the last few months, where he wasn't even training and then he had a few good games for us. So the steps are there in every way and we want to try to keep him.”

Balogun scored his first professional goal in the Europa League against Molde in November 2020 and he has two goals in four appearances in the competition so far.

Despite his fine run in Europe, the Spanish coach also cited the competition for places as a reason for Balogun’s absence in his matchday squads ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Southampton.

“Because of the competition we have now and because there are other players that haven’t had many minutes and they’ve played in the FA Cup. It takes time,” he added.

“We have to respect that with Eddie, he’s not been playing a lot recently as well and he’s in front of him at the moment and we have to be calm and respectful.”