Arsenal have confirmed that young striker Folarin Balogun has signed a new "long-term contract" with the club, ending a season of speculation over his future.
Balogun's previous deal was set to expire at the end of the season and a host of clubs had been linked with his signature, most notably RB Leipzig, and it appeared back in January that the 19-year-old would be leaving the Emirates.
But the Gunners were determined to keep hold of the striker and have now tied him down, having been impressed with his breakthrough performances in the Europa League, where he has scored twice.
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“We have been extremely impressed with Flo this season," manager Mikel Arteta said.
"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.
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The news comes amid rumours that the north Londoners are set to open tales with another academy graduate, Emile Smith Rowe, who has established himself as a first-team star this season.
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The England Under-21 playmaker began the season injured, but his return to fitness heralded a reversal of sorts in the Gunners' fortunes.
His current deal expires in June 2023 but his increased importance and status has earned him a new contract.
Arsenal have made a priority of giving their best young prospects new contracts, with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli both committing their futures to the club last summer.
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Only time will tell if Folarin Balogun can follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe and become a key player for Arsenal but it is certainly good news for a beleaguered club that they have tied down a talent they looked set to lose a few months ago. The emergence of two (potentially three) academy graduates has come at a welcome time for Arsenal. Their current crop of players' attitude has been constantly questioned and there is no doubt that having local kids spending their career with the club will galvanise the team. It is remarkable how few have made the grade since Arsene Wenger took over - only Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs became regulars from Hale End.
Furthermore Covid-19 has evidently butchered the finances of every club and Arsenal are no exception. Having contended with the loss of their regular Champions League money in recently, the departure of matchday revenue for over a season will have left them in an even more precarious position at a time when they evidently need large amounts of investment to get them back into the Premier League's top four.
Arsenal will know better than anyone that they need to be patient with young players. But even if they cannot lead the Gunners back to success, they will still command good transfer feeds as young English talents, which can subsequently be invested back into the squad.
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