In an incredible turn of events Folarin Balogun looks set to sign a deal to extend his contract with Arsenal.
The 19-year-old looked set to leave on a free when his current agreement expired at the end of this season until reports emerged last week that he is now set to stay.
The news was more or less confirmed by Mikel Arteta in his press conference ahead of the Gunners Europa League quarter final second leg with Slavia Prague, where he admitted it’s now a matter of when rather than if the extension is confirmed.
“Yeah we’re going to make it official when it’s official and everything is done,” he said.
“As is said before I’ve always been very positive that he wants to stay at the club. We want him to stay at the club, so we are very close.”
So how exactly did they manage to pull this miraculous turnaround off?
Well Arteta also went on to reveal the process that had gone into convincing Balogun that his future lay with Arsenal.
“Just trying to, first of all understand, why he got to the point that he was really thinking about leaving the football club after being raise here and the feelings that he has built towards the club,” he said.
“Once you understand the position of him try to explain what you want to do, how involved he’s going to be in the project and how.
“And then get the full commitment from the club and support and Edu who I think has done an incredible job as well.”
Balogun is widely viewed as the latest bright talent to come out of the Hale End conveyor belt who is capable of contributing to the Arsenal first team and impressed at senior level managing a goal every 31 minutes during brief cameos in the Europa League group stages earlier this season.
Seeing one of their brightest academy talents leave on a free, particularly given the club’s current financial state, would have been a disaster for Arsenal but they have now been able to stop that from happening.
Like in any set of contract negotiations money played a factor in the 19-year-old’s decision, but football.london understands game time was always his most pressing concern.
It seems as though it is here where Edu was able to play a huge role in convincing Balogun that he would be offered chances if he stayed with in North London.
Since Raul Sanllehi was removed from his position as Head of Football last summer the Brazilian has taken a far more hands on approach in transfer dealings
In that time he has struck up a close working relationship with Mikel Arteta with the Spaniard once joking that he speaks with the Arsenal technical director more often than he does with his wife.
“Probably in the last year or so I spoke probably to Edu more or less more than anybody else in my life!” Arteta said in January.
“That’s for sure what my wife says because of the things we have to go through with coronavirus as well, [and] the transfers.
“Luckily we have a great relationship, a great understanding and we support each other in a great way. It’s lucky you have to talk all the time with someone around the day that the relationship is strong.”
With almost every one of the Gunners’ signings since January 2019 it has been interesting to note that on official confirmation articles on the club’s website, Edu’s quotes about the deal have often been included before that of the manager.
But far from just focusing on incomings the Brazilian has played a huge part in helping to shift some of the players deemed surplus to requirements by Arteta in recent times.
This is a departure from the time under Arsene Wenger were the Frenchman oversaw almost every aspect of the Gunners’ transfer dealings.
Instead the Brazilian’s focus on transfer and contract issues gives Arteta far more time to turn his attention to matters on the pitch.
The pair’s relationship is expected to play a crucial role in Arsenal’s recruitment plans for the coming summer once again, where securing vital squad improvements such as a permanent deal for Martin Odegaard, will be important as they seek to move Arteta’s project onto the next level.
Newly appointed Head of Football Operations Richard Garlick will also be heavily involved in the administrative side the Gunners’ transfer dealings.
Edu has admitted that despite some disappointing results this season, he remains fully behind the Spaniard who he views as the man to bring the glory days of the early Wenger reign back to the Emirates Stadium.
“I can see a big, big, big and beautiful future,” said the 42-year-old in December.
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“It’s very strange to say that in this moment, but I have to be fair – that’s the way I see the photo. And I always believed, and knew, it’d be a big challenge.
“We have to be patient. I know asking for patience for Arsenal is very strange because everyone has said that for long, long periods.
“But I’m here today to give to you guys the word that everything is fine internally but the results aren’t coming, but I think we’re going to change it very soon.”