Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Folarin Balogun is on the verge of signing a new Arsenal contract.

UEFA Europa League Group B, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 10/12/2020. Dundalk vs Arsenal Arsenal's Folarin Balogun celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal of the game. Copyright: INPHO / Ryan Byrne
UEFA Europa League Group B, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 10/12/2020. Dundalk vs Arsenal Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal of the game. Copyright: INPHO / Ryan Byrne

Speaking to the media ahead of Arsenal’s second leg against Slavia Prague, Mikel Arteta was asked if there is any truth to the rumours that Balogun was on the verge of signing a new deal with the club.

“We’re going to make it official when it’s official and everything is done, but as I said before I was being very positive that he wants to stay at the club,” Arteta replied. “We want him to stay at the club so we are very close.”

He was then asked how the situation had changed. “Just by trying to, first of all, understand why he got to the point that he was really thinking about leaving the football club after being raised here and the feelings that he had built towards the club.

“Once you understand the position of him, then try to explain what you want to do, how involved he is going to be in the project and how. Then, get the full commitment from the club and support from Edu, who I think has done an incredible job as well.”

Asked if he would be in the first team next season or go on loan, Arteta replied, “First of all we have to sign him! Once we sign him, we go step-by-step and we’ll communicate with you guys on what we’re doing.”

Folarin Balogun of Arsenal celebrates his goal during the UEFA Europa League match between Molde and Arsenal on November 26, 2020 in Molde. Photo: Marius Simensen / BILDBYRAN
Folarin Balogun of Arsenal celebrates his goal during the UEFA Europa League match between Molde and Arsenal on November 26, 2020 in Molde. Photo: Marius Simensen / BILDBYRAN

Folarin Balogun always wanted to stay at Arsenal throughout his protracted contract negotiations, but he just wanted assurances over his future first-team involvement.

Throughout Balogun’s contract saga, The Beautiful Game Podcast have been on the ball in reporting updates on negotiations, so it was worth checking in with them amid the current reports that he’s close to signing a new deal.

According to The Beautiful Game Podcast’s latest video update, Balogun will indeed sign a new four-year deal with Arsenal. The decision to stay was always up to him in the end, and he was keen to do so as long as he got assurances over first-team football.

Mikel Arteta was vital in that regard, eventually convincing the player to pen a new deal.

Balogun was a lot closer to leaving last summer, when as many as 15 clubs were interested in him, both from around England and Europe. Former Arsenal men Sven Mislintat at Stuttgart and Ivan Gazidis at Milan have both pushed for him over the last year.

Thankfully, it seems Arsenal are set to hold onto their top u23 goalscorer, who has 11 goals and three assists this season including his three goal contributions for the first team.

Over the last few days, Balogun has been busy preparing to play in Monday night’s key Premier League 2 fixture against Derby County. After that, he’ll reportedly put pen to paper on Tuesday for an announcement on Wednesday.

Folarin Balogun scores 4th in 3 games in vital Arsenal u23 win

Folarin Balogun scored for the Arsenal u23s in a crucial win on Monday, amid recent reports of an imminent contract extension.

Arsenal u23s prepare to face Derby u23s (Photo via DCFC.co.uk)
Arsenal u23s prepare to face Derby u23s (Photo via DCFC.co.uk)

All the rumours point to Folarin Balogun signing a new four-year contract with Arsenal this week, but on Monday night he had a crucial u23 match to focus on.

Steve Bould’s side were taking on Derby County, starting the match just four points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining. A win would put them in a strong position to stay up, but a defeat could really drag them back into the mix.

Unfortunately, Arsenal had a terrible first half. They just couldn’t get going offensively, failing to create a single chance, and Cameron Cresswell gave Derby the lead from a penalty conceded by Joel Lopez five minutes before the break.

Arsenal came out with renewed purpose in the second half, and they scored with their first chance when Kido Taylor-Hart swivelled on a loose ball to score following a corner.

The equaliser only drew things level for a couple of minutes, with Miguel Azeez conceding possession in midfield for Josh Shonibare to run through and score another for Derby.

But Arsenal rallied again, and the night’s captain Folarin Balogun was influential. First, he made a nice run down the right-hand side and squared for Nikolaj Moller to fire just wide, then he was clinical when a chance finally fell his way to make it 2-2.

Including the friendly against Brentford B last week, Balogun has now scored four goals in his last three games.

The game was precariously balanced, and Arsenal took the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances. Trae Coyle – who assisted the second goal – won a free-kick in a decent area, before putting the ball in for Joseph Bateman to convert into his own net.

Arsenal managed to cling onto the 3-2 lead they found themselves with despite only taking three shots all night, and somehow escaped with all three points.

The Gunners now have a seven-point gap to the relegation zone, but both of the teams (West Ham United and Leicester City) below them have a game in hand.

Arsenal also play against Leicester and West Ham (twice) in their last three games, so it’s not quite over yet. But a win over Leicester and a draw with West Ham in the next two games would guarantee Bould’s side safety regardless of other results.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.