Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Folarin Balogun is close to signing a new contract with Arsenal but is waiting for a decision about two other players.
Balogun is one of the most promising players to emerge from the academy at Arsenal in recent years. He is yet to make his Premier League debut but has already scored for the club in this season’s Europa League group stage. Although he is unlikely to play when Arsenal face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, Arteta had an update about his future.
News recently emerged that Arsenal had reached a breakthrough in negotiations with the young forward. He is now set to commit his long-term future to the club.
Arteta has been hopeful of that outcome all along, despite previously admitting he was unsure about Balogun’s agent’s intentions.
But the manager has now revealed that an announcement is close.
“We will make it official when it is official and everything is done,” Arteta said.
“As I said before, I have always been positive that he wants to stay at the club. We want him to stay at the club, so we are very close.”
Two other players whose futures must yet be resolved are Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard. The midfielders are both on loan from Real Madrid.
There are doubts over whether they can both stay at the Emirates Stadium. Arteta has been impressed with both players but must wait to find out if he can keep them.
“With the financial position we’ve been in we had to find different ways to recruit good players to the club,” he said.
“In both cases I’m really happy with both of them and it needs to be decided at the end of the season.”
Odegaard has made an impact since his January arrival, when he effectively replaced Mesut Ozil even though the German hadn’t played all season.
However, he is in doubt for Thursday’s second leg with Slavia Prague due to an ankle injury. The same goes for club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been ill.
“I don’t know,” Arteta replied when asked if the duo would be back for Thursday. “We have to see today how they are.
“We still have a couple of other ones as well in the last few days so we will have to see how everyone is today and after training how they react for tomorrow’s game.”
Arteta ready for Slavia battle
It isn’t certain that Odegaard and Aubameyang will take part in training, but Arteta is keeping his fingers crossed.
“Depending how they wake up,” he said when asked if they would train. “Yesterday none of them could train.
“Hopefully today it’s a sunnier day so maybe it’s better.”
Arsenal looked to have earned the advantage against Slavia last week, only to concede a late equaliser. Hence, they head to the Czech Republic knowing they must score at least once.
Slavia have already knocked out Leicester and Rangers from this competition. Indeed, Arteta insisted their place at this stage is merited.
“They fully deserve to be where they are and showed in the first leg that they never give up,” he said. “We’re going to have a really battle tomorrow.”