Months of contract negotiations, public comments and calling bluff are finally about to come to an end.
Folarin Balogun is on the verge of signing a new four-year contract at Arsenal just two months before his deal was due to expire.
The 19-year-old has undoubtedly been the club’s best performer for the Under-23s this season, scoring eight and providing two assists in 16 games.
Balogun had earlier impressed in the Europa League group stage matches, scoring twice in five substitute cameo appearances.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had always remained confident in public that Balogun would commit his future to the club, stating that the youngster had told him on multiple occasions that he wanted to stay.
And so it proved right.
Despite reports suggesting Balogun had come close to reaching a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club, technical director Edu along with Arteta have managed to get a very late deal over the line.
Balogun, who was nominated for the Premier League 2’s Player of the Month award in both December and January, is considered by many within the club to be one of Arsenal’s most promising young players.
Finances have certainly played an understandable part in Balogun’s decision, but football.london understands that it is assurances of being included in Arteta’s future first team plans that has made the difference.
“I think I am pretty positive about it and every time I spoke to him, he mentions the same thing, that he’s determined to stay here, that he wants to stay here,” said Arteta in March.
“We have had some really positive conversations with his agent as well and Edu is in charge of that.
“He’s been spending a lot of time and energy to make that deal happen because it’s important for us to keep our talent in the house, and what we can guarantee is that we’re doing everything we can to keep him.”
Balogun’s extension could make Alexandre Lacazette’s departure even more likely this summer, with the Frenchman seeing his contract come to an end in June 2022.
Lacazette was close to leaving last summer as the likes of Atletico Madrid and Roma scrambled for his signature, but no move materialised due to the lack of transfer funds available for either side.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 31, already on a bumper contract it would appear unlikely that Lacazette will be offered something similar when there are a host of top European clubs waiting to sign him.
There are also question marks over the future of Eddie Nketiah, who interestingly has the same agent as Balogun, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson.
Nketiah’s contract also expires next summer and he has found his first team opportunities limited this season. However, a possible departure of Lacazette may see him compete for a place in the senior squad.
Gabriel Martinelli is also another exciting forward option who emerged as a key player last season, scoring ten goals in all competitions in his breakthrough campaign.
Martinelli himself has previously admitted that he prefers playing out on the left but with the possible departure of Lacazette this summer, the likelihood is that the Brazilian will be the long-term replacement for the Frenchman.
Arteta will have key decisions to make this summer and plans are already underway to strengthen the full-back areas, with Hector Bellerin’s future in doubt and Kieran Tierney currently on the sidelines through injury.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
One area where the Spaniard can be content with is upfront, where Arsenal now possess an abundance of young attacking talent combined with captain Aubameyang who still guarantees double figures for goals each season.
This season may have provided inconsistent results and performances at times, but the news that Arsenal are set to tie down one of their best young players comes as a boost for a club who are looking to bring through the next generation of talents from Hale End.