Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta must hand Folarin Balogun more minutes over the coming weeks in order to convince him to sign a new contract with the Gunners according to Fabrizio Romano. The highly-rated 19-year-old striker’s current deal at the Emirates expires in the summer.
Balogun is one of Arsenal’s highest rated youngsters having scored freely for the club’s under-18s and under-23s teams.
The teenager has 17 goals and six assists in just 17 games for the under-23s team and has also impressed at senior level, scoring twice in four Europa League matches this term, despite not starting any of them.
New York-born Balogun has only played 61 minutes in Europe in addition to a 13-minute cameo in the Carabao Cup quarter-final hammering at the hands of Manchester City last month.
The England under-20 international finds himself stuck behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah and is still to make his Premier League debut.
That means his future remains uncertain with Liverpool said to be among the clubs eyeing his signature on a free, although Arsenal would be due compensation due to his age, in the summer.
And Romano says that if Balogun is to stay at Arsenal, Arteta must trust him with more minutes in the starting eleven in the near future.
Romano told AFTV: “My personal opinion, Balogun is an amazing talent and it’s crazy to arrive in January negotiating with his agents and not having a new contract one or two years ago.
“You need to be fast when you have when you have this kind of talent. The situation, I’m told Balogun is not close to signing with another club.
“He has like 15 bids on the table from Italian clubs, English clubs, German clubs. Many clubs are talking with his agent because now he’s a potential free agent for the summer.
“They’re talking to his agent and offering him some different, he has some big clubs who see him as part of the future of the club and some mid-table clubs trying to get him to make him play. Balogun wants to play, his priority is to play.
“In the Europa League he was amazing but he was playing 60 minutes in total and that’s why the player is not so happy. He’s still open to talking with Arsenal about a new contract if they will let him play.
“He’s just not happy and talking to other clubs just because he’s not playing. At the moment the situation is so open.
“If Mikel will change the situation and let him play in the next weeks for sure the situation can change and he can sit with Arsenal and discuss a new contract.
“If not and if he will continue not playing, I think the player will go because he has many bids. He can decide important English clubs who see him for the future or going to play in a mid-table club to be a top star.
“He loves Arsenal, I heard he loves the club and would like to stay but he’s just not playing. For a young talent it’s terrible not to play.
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“That’s why he’s waiting to understand what’s going on. He has theopportunity to stay if Arteta will make him play. I’m told he wants to be part of the project of the club immediately.
“Obviously you can say he’s so young and Arsenal have many players in attacking roles but he wants to feel like part of the project also for the present.
“He feels he’s ready to help the club and wants to play. We have to respect it. At the moment it’s still open. We will see in the coming weeks what’s going on.”
Discussing Balogun’s future recently, Arteta said: “His progression and the use of the time he’s had with us, has been incredibly good, and he will keep having chances when he is with us.
“Well, you need three parties to make a deal. For sure the club wants to make a deal and the manager wants to make a deal; the player wants to stay; and I’m not sure about the agent.
“I’m not saying he’s stopping it, but we need to find an agreement with him. We are negotiating in the end with an agent, and a player who wants to stay at the club, and we need to find an agreement.
“I’m telling you we are doing everything we can to keep him here. And hopefully from the other side they are doing the same and they are defending the same interests – which is the player’s interests, which is to stay at the football club and successful with us.”