The Spanish manager has confirmed he’s trying to convince Folarin Balogun to stay at the London giants and insists the teenager’s lack of regular playing-time has nothing to do with his delicate deal situation.
U20 England international is being tipped as a potential star of the future and has shone in the UEL this campaign, scoring against both Molde and Dundalk, with first-team footballers blown away by the striker’s enormous potential in training.
But Folarin has less than six months remaining on his current contract in Arsenal and there are rumours the striker has already decided to quit the club, with Liverpool known to be admirers and a number of overseas clubs keeping close tabs on the situation.
There have even been reports suggesting Balogun has a pre-contract deal in place to join RB Leipzig next summer. Asked whether the 19-year-old centre-forward’s lack of game time was linked to his deal situation, the Spanish coach replied: ‘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.’ Asked whether the English striker had discussed a deal to leave, Mikel Arteta responded: ‘As far as I know, no.’
Folarin is yet to make his PL debut and eyebrows were raised when the forward was left out of the Gunners squad for their FA Cup match against Newcastle, given his fantastic displays in Europe. But Mikel Arteta called for patience, with Eddie Nketiah just one of the footballers ahead of Balogun in the pecking order upfront.