Mikel Arteta has revealed Arsenal are moving heaven and earth to try and persuade Folarin Balogun is future is at The Emirates.
The 19-year-old is out of contract in the summer and is allowed to sign a pre-contract agreement with an overseas club this month.
His representatives are in talks with a number of clubs and Arteta has been critical of how the youngster has been advised.
The Guardian says 15 clubs have been tracking the player, but suggest now three are in the mix for his signature, along with the option of remaining with Arsenal.
Last week Football Insider exclusively claimed a deal was much further down the line. The outlet claimed the striker had agreed a pre-contract with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.
Arteta though rejected that on Thursday. Asked if Balogun had agreed a deal elsewhere, he said: “As far as I know no.”
Arteta said via Zoom: “No if anything regarding his contractual situation with the club, I just want to convince him he has a future with the club. Not sending the opposite message.
“Before he wasn’t training with the first team. We changed that. He’s showing a real hunger and desire to be with us.
“We’re trying to get something done because we want him to stay. We have to go step by step.
“I think he’s made some big steps in the last few months where he wasn’t even training and then he had a few good games for us. So the steps are there and we want to try to keep him.”
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‘Respect the pathway’
Balogun though wants playing time in the first team.
He made his first-team debut in their 3-0 Europa League win over Dundalk in October 2020.
The striker then opened his senior goalscoring account for the club just 37 seconds after coming off the bench against Molde.
He then got a goal and an assist in the 4-2 win over Dundalk but is yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Gunners.
Asked why Balogun hasn’t been in Arteta’s squads recently, the boss replied: “Because the competition that we have in front positions. And because there are other players that haven’t had many minutes and they played in the FA Cup.
“It takes time. We have to respect that pathway. Eddie as well is not playing a lot recently as well, and he is in front of him at the moment. So we have to be calm and respectful.”
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