Arsenal have announced that they have reached an agreement to extend the contract of talented young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo.
He will now join up with Mikel Arteta‘s first team squad ahead of next season and has been given the number 33 shirt previously worn by Mat Ryan.
The 19-year-old stopper’s previous contract officially expired on June 30th but as previously reported by football.london the Gunners had been in talks over a renewal and were confident of getting the deal done.
And now Arsenal confirmed that the Hale End graduate has committed his long-term future to the club despite attracting interest from clubs across Europe.
Okonkwo was called up to the first team on several occasions last season as third choice ‘keeper for the Gunners Europa League games after Runar Alex Runarsson was omitted from the 25-man squad for the knockout stages.
And will now be a permanent fixture on the first team scene at the Emirates next season, with Arteta delighted to have secured his services.
“We welcome Arthur to the first-team squad,” said the Spaniard. “We are so happy another academy player has come through our system at the club.
“Together with Arthur’s huge talent and hard work, we thank our colleagues at the academy for developing Arthur in recent years to get to this stage, they are doing great work with the players’ development here and should be really proud.
“Arthur was working and travelling a lot with the first team last season and we have all seen his quality at first hand.
“He is a strong young goalkeeper with great potential and we’re so pleased he has signed a new deal. He has absolutely earned his place in the first-team squad.”
“Arthur will now join us every single day in training, where we look forward to watching him continue to develop and improve his goalkeeping.
“I know all our fans will join me in congratulating Arthur on this positive step in his career.”
Arsenal’s technical director Edu also expressed his gratitude to the Gunners’ academy and how happy he was to see another Hale Ender come through to the first team.
“The work of our academy and development of young players for the first team is a huge part of what we stand for as a club.
“They have produced some top players in recent years all of who have a special connection with the club and our fans.
“It’s great that we have our third goalkeeper who has progressed from our academy and we look forward to seeing more young players coming through.
“Arthur has worked hard to get this far and we’re confident he’ll have an exciting future.”
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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The news is likely to spell the end for Runar Alex Runarsson who has been linked with a move to Turkey after disappointing in his first season in North London.
Arsenal remain on the hunt for a back up goalkeeper to Bernd Leno this summer, with Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale among the players to have been linked.