Mikel Arteta has poured cold water on any suggestions that Folarin Balogun is being left out of the Arsenal squad due to his contract stand-off.
After featuring regularly in the Europa League and Carabao cup towards the end of 2020, the young striker was a notable absentee from the squad to face Newcastle United in FA Cup two weeks ago.
Speaking ahead of this week’s game against Southampton, the Spaniard remains hopeful the club can still convince the 19-year-old to sign a new deal.
Arteta said: “No. If anything – regarding his contractual situation with the club – I just wanted to convince him that he has a future at the club, not send him the opposite message. Before he wasn’t training with the first team, we changed that and he’s been training with us a lot. We’re trying to get something done because we want him to stay and we have to go step-by-step.” (via Arsenal)
Can Arsenal beat Southampton on Saturday?
Yes, we will steamroll them
No, the Saints have too much for us
The stand-off between the two parties does prove to be incredibly baffling. Balogun has bags of talents, however, the omission from the FA Cup tie against the Geordies does in some way, shape or form, show me that Balogun is on course to leave the club.
If the young gun can’t get into a cup squad to face Steve Bruce’s side at home, in a cup game, then there doesn’t seem to be any real future at the club for the Hale End academy product.
It proves a real shame as well because in his minimal first-team action this season, the youngster has shown he’s more than capable of making the grade in north London. Across just 74 minutes for the senior side, the England youth international has scored twice and assisted once. His impact has been quite fruitful and he’s shown signs of being a better fit than Eddie Nketiah.
However, with reports of a pre-contract agreement having been reached with Red Bull Leipzig and a lack of opportunities on the horizon, I’d be stunned if Balogun, who has been labelled ‘fire’, chose to stay beyond the expiration of his current deal.