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James Olayinka signs first professional deal at Arsenal

3:34 PM GMT+4 29/01/2019
Olayinka - Arsenal
Following his impressive outings for the youth teams, the 18-year-old has been rewarded with a senior contract that will keep him at Emirates Stadium

James Olayinka has signed his first professional contract with Arsenal, the club confirmed.

Olayinka, a graduate of the club's Hale End Academy, has been with the north London outfit since the age of seven.

He has proved to be a promising talent for the Gunners and featured for both the U18 and U23 teams this season.

The midfielder has made 20 appearances across all competitions this season which include 12 Premier League 2 outings for Freddie Ljungberg's U23s and two league appearances for Ken Gillard's U18s.

In reacting to the new deal, Olayinka who was born to Nigeria parents in England, described his progress as a dream come true.

"It’s a great feeling. I’ve been here for about 11 or 12 years now, so to finally get to this stage is a dream come true," Olayinka told club website.

"It’s a proud moment for me and my family.

"It’s been a long journey and there’s been ups and down, but to get to this stage is testament to the hard work.

"I’m happy that the club have rewarded me with a contract."

As he hopes to follow in the steps of Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock in making his competitive debut for the first-team, the 18-year-old revealed his targets for the remainder of the season.

"Personally I just want to keep playing well and score a few more goals for the team," he continued.

"In terms of targets for the team, I think we can do better in the Premier League 2 and start picking up some more points, and for the U18s we’re still in the FA Youth Cup.

"We’re in the last 16 now so it’s a good chance for us to go one stage further than last year."