Arsenal caught in familiar contract trap with Balogun as star’s exit nears

Arsenal are hoping to avoid falling victim to a two-tier contract trap which catches out elite clubs as they battle to keep hold of Folarin Balogun.

The 19-year-old's current deal is due to expire in June and he has still not confirmed whether he will be penning an extension.

The Gunners are working behind the scenes to try and keep him at the club but Balogun seemingly has no interest in committing to a new contract without any assurances over playing time.

It took Arsenal seven months after Balogun's 17th birthday to tie him down to professional terms, eventually doing so in February 2019.

At the time Arsenal opted for a short-term deal supported by various targets which, if met, would later see Balogun earn a more lucrative and longer-term contract as a reward for his progress.

Since then the forward has flourished in Arsenal's academy sides, with his goals record in the under-23s particularly impressive.

That alone alerted other clubs to his abilities but still no senior debut was forthcoming until Mikel Arteta finally handed him his first-team bow this season, with Balogun scoring twice in his five appearances thus far.

But Arsenal's stalling over offering Balogun improved terms has now left them scrambling to try and retain his services.

It could even now be a case of too little too late as Balogun has grown frustrated waiting in the wings for further opportunities and has so far snubbed Arsenal's best offers.

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After developing Balogun from the age of eight they now could yet lose the youngster in the summer for next to nothing, other than potentially a small fee via tribunal.

A similar fate befell Chelsea when Dominic Solanke opted to move to Liverpool rather than stay at Stamford Bridge.

More recently Chelsea didn't even get the chance to sign Jamal Musiala on pro terms as he switched to Bayern Munich before he turned 17.

Man City were also put in the same situation with Jadon Sancho though were able to offload him for £8million as he still had a year left on his contract.

Should Balogun depart, Arsenal may perhaps end up regretting not trying harder to offload him last summer when the likes of Sheffield United expressed an interest, but their demands were too high.

Liverpool have also been linked with an approach for Balogun, though the striker is keen to ensure he will be a first-team regular wherever his next move takes him, with a transfer to the Bundesliga now looking the most plausible if he does choose to leave.

But despite not featuring for the first team since before Christmas, Arteta insists Balogun wants to commit his future to the club.

Should Balogun stick or twist at Arsenal? Have your say below.

"I am pretty positive about it. Every time I spoke to him he mentioned the same thing, that he is determined to stay here. He wants to stay here," Arteta said on Wednesday.

"We’ve had some really positive conversations with his agent as well, Edu is in charge of that.

"He’s been expending a lot of time and energy trying to get that deal to happen because it’s important for us to keep our talent in the house.

"And we can guarantee that we’re doing everything we can to keep him."

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