Mikel Arteta says Folarin Balogun will be pushing for a spot in the Arsenal team after signing his new contract, and says the young star has “unique” qualities.
The 19-year-old striker looked set to leave the Gunners this summer with his contract set to expire and seeing his game time in the first team limited to Europa League appearances this season.
However, the highly-rated youngster has reached an agreement on a new deal in North London until 2025, and Arteta says that it is an example of Arsenal’s commitment to youth.
“It’s really important [that he signed a new deal] because it shows that he has enjoyed the time he’s been training with us and that’s why he wants to stay with us,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“He sees an opportunity here to have the career that he wants. In all aspects, he knows that we trust him and that we want to have a future together.
“Then, we needed to link that with the people at the club, with the right support from Per and the academy, and with the work that Edu has done over the months to undo what was happening and the direction the situation was taking.
“He has completely turned that over into a position where now the player is going to stay with us.”
Arteta pinpointed the key aspects of Balogun’s game with the striker set to put up a fight for a place with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah over the coming months.
“He’s a very, very hungry boy,” Arteta added. “He wants to do everything. He wants to practice more every single day.
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“He has unique qualities as a striker – his speed and the way he holds the ball. He’s a real goal threat and he works tremendously hard.
“He will be pushing anybody in our first team to get his spot and that’s exactly what we want.
“He’s got the chance; now it’s time for him to prove himself. We have to give him the right support, which he will get, and then it’s up to him and what he does on the pitch.”