Arsenal: Arteta says club 'belongs in semi-finals'
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Arsenal are close to confirming that promising academy striker Folarin Balogun has signed a new long-term contract with the club. Balogun is set to end speculation over his future by penning a new four-year deal at the Emirates. And keeping the teenager could be good news for Mikel Arteta’s summer transfer plans.
Balogun has already proven in his handful of first-team appearances what he is capable of.
The 19-year-old is yet to start for the Gunners but scored a couple of goals off the bench in the group stage of the Europa League.
Balogun has not played a single minute of first-team action since December though, with Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah all ahead of him in the pecking order.
But that could soon change if Lacazette and Nketiah leave this summer.
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There is a distinct possibility both players could depart the Emirates, with their respective contracts set to expire at the end of next season.
With Lacazette turning 30 next month, there may be a reluctance from club chiefs to give him a new deal.
Nketiah has flattered to deceive with his performances this season which has led to a lack of game time in recent months.
Arsenal could not justify losing both players if Balogun was also going to leave the club.
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But with Balogun set to stay, Arsenal could raise some much-needed funds through the sales of Lacazette and Nketiah.
Transfermarkt.co.uk value Lacazette at £31.5million and Nketiah at £16.2m, which could bolster Arteta’s resources by £47.7m.
The Evening Standard report Nketiah is attracting interest from West Ham, and that Balogun signing a new contract has only helped the Hammers’ chances of signing the England under-21 star.
Nketiah recently revealed his frustration at a lack of minutes at club level.
The 21-year-old said: “It’s been a difficult last month or so. I haven’t played as much as I would have liked.
“I have been working hard and being dedicated, which adds to the frustration, but I have a great opportunity in front of me.”
Lacazette scored his 50th Premier League goal for Arsenal in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Sheffield United.
But it has taken almost four seasons for him to reach that tally, so Arsenal may look for a more prolific frontman to lead the line.
Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard remains a target, with Balogun likely to be used in a similar role to what Nketiah has played next season.
Speaking on Wednesday, Arteta explained how he convinced Balogun Arsenal was the right club for him.
Arteta said: “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.”
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