Mikel Arteta insists he has full confidence in Folarin Balogun and is adamant the youngster will continue to gain first team experience should he opt to remain at Arsenal amid a contract standoff.
The New York-born striker has been prolific at youth level for the Gunners but has, up until now, been frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities and failed to come to an agreement with Arsenal over a new deal.
Sheffield United made an official offer for the 19-year-old during the summer, while a number of Bundesliga clubs are said to be monitoring Balogun’s situation with a view to a possible free transfer when his current deal expires next year.
The talented teenager made his senior debut as a second-half substitute in last night’s 3-0 Europa League win over Dundalk and Arteta is hopeful he can persuade Balogun that his future remains in north London.
‘He’s a player that I really like,’ the Arsenal manager said in his post match press conference.
‘Obviously I’ve got this situation and I believe it’s later than what I would like because I wasn’t here when everything started to develop but yes, he’s a player that I would like to give chances to.
‘That’s why he was in the squad today and I showed him that yes, we count on him and we believe in him and if he wants, he’s going to have a future in the club.’
Balogun endured a nomadic career during the early stages his career before finding his feet in Arsenal’s academy and after waiting patiently for this opportunity, he thanked Arteta for handing him a chance to impress in the first team last night.
‘It’s been tough, I’ve been at a few other clubs doing trials and stuff like that but I’ve been working my way through the academy and I think as time has gone on I’ve become a better player.
‘I think that’s shown in my performances and I think it’s good now to get the recognition that my performances deserve.
‘There were loads of emotions really. I knew that this was the moment I’d been waiting for but at the same time I knew there was a job that needed to be done. So I just tried to come on, make runs, be a nuisance and just help the team.’