Mikel Arteta’s warning to Folarin Balogun as striker signs new Arsenal contract

Mikel Arteta has told Folarin Balogun ‘the hard work starts now’ after the talented striker signed a new four-year contract with the club.

The 19-year-old had been a target for several clubs in Europe and there were fears he would leave the Gunners this summer when his contract expired.

Had he opted for a club in Europe, Arsenal could have lost one of their most highly-rated talents for nothing in the summer.

The Gunners’ website only stated it is a ‘new long-term contract’ but it has been widely reported to be a four-year deal.

Mikel Arteta said: “We have been extremely impressed with Flo this season. He has continually shown his natural ability in many training sessions with us and we have been equally impressed with his early integration into the first-team squad on matchdays.

"He has given us glimpses with the performances and of course with his two goals already for the first team.

“The hard work starts here for Flo and we are all looking forward to supporting and working with him in the years to come.”

Balogun was born in the United States to Nigerian parents but has lived in London since he was two and has represented both the USA and England at youth levels.

The striker has been at the club since he was nine years old and broke into the first team this season.

Balogun has yet to start for the senior team but has already scored twice in six substitute outings, despite only featuring for a total of 76 minutes, with his two goals coming in the Europa League group stage wins away at Molde and Dundalk.

Balogun has also scored eight goals in 18 appearances in the Premier League 2 and EFL Trophy.

Arsenal’s technical director Edu said: “It’s great that Flo will continue to be with us. He is a very promising young talent and has already shown so much quality in his performances.

“We are all looking forward to working with him during his continued development in the coming years.”

Arsenal have had to ward off plenty of interest in the youngster to convince him to stay put.

Brentford had a £5 million bid rejected in January 2020 and Sheffield United had a £3 million offer turned down in September, with their former boss Chris Wilder confirming their interest publicly.

But it was the threat from abroad which concerned Arsenal most, as Balogun would have been free to join a team overseas for nothing once his contract expired in the summer, though has now committed to life in North London.

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