Mikel Arteta responds to rumours Folarin Balogun has decided to quit Arsenal

Dundalk v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Group B
Young Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun becomes a free agent in the summer (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has confirmed he’s trying to convince Folarin Balogun to remain at Arsenal and insists the youngster’s lack of regular game-time has nothing to do with his delicate contract situation.

Academy product Balogun is being tipped as a potential star of the future and has shone in the Europa League this season, scoring against both Molde and Dundalk, with first-team players blown away by the 19-year-old’s enormous potential in training.

But Balogun has less than six months remaining on his current deal in north London and there are rumours the teenager has already decided to quit the club, with Liverpool and several overseas teams keeping close tabs on the situation.

Dundalk FC v Arsenal FC: Group B - UEFA Europa League
The youngster has impressed in Europe this term (Picture: Getty)

There have even been reports suggesting the England Under-20 international has a pre-contract agreement in place to join RB Leipzig next summer.

Asked whether Balogun’s lack of playing time was linked to his contract situation, Arteta 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.

‘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.’

Eyebrows were raised when Balogun failed to make Arsenal’s squad for their FA Cup clash with Newcastle after his impressive performances in Europe but Arteta called for patience, given the amount of competition in the squad.

On the reason for Balogun’s absence from Arsenal’s matchday squads, Arteta explained: ‘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. We have to respect that with Eddie [Nketiah], 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.’

Asked whether Balogun discussed a deal to leave, Arteta responded: ‘As far as I know, no.’

No comments