Arsenal have reaped the benefits of their academy in recent years, with Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and most notably Bukayo Saka playing first-team football at various regular levels.
Now there is a new generation of talented teens on the dawn of the senior squad, including Folarin Balogun and Arthur Okonkwo.
The duo have both been a regular feature in Arsenal’s first two preseason games on their tour of Scotland, where they faced Hibernian and Rangers respectively.
Balogun has become somewhat of a big name among Arsenal loyalists without appearing too often, as the striker has attracted interest from several clubs across the continent, including Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.
However, the 20-year-old New York-born forward has chosen to stake his future in the Emirates, signing a new four-year contract to keep him in north London until 2025.
Balogun is yet to appear on the Gunners’ scoresheet this preseason, while goalkeeper Okonkwo made a disastrous mistake in the 2-1 loss to Hibernian.
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However, boss Mikel Arteta remains convinced that both have a bright future at the club.
Speaking to Arsenal’s website, Arteta said: “It’s great, it’s just a small step, but now the biggest step is trying to become a regular at the first team. C is a small step from the next step they need to take.
“This is the first thing they need to achieve, the hard work is not over yet. The hard work is going to start now, and the expectations start now and if they have that mindset, they have the potential, we believe in them and they will have opportunities. “
Arteta went on to explain how the pair rose through the academy ranks due to their obvious talent, saying: “The two are really different but at the same time very similar.
“They both raised the level of the academy to such an extent that it was no longer for them, so we had to look to create the space around the first team so that they could develop like us. hope so. “
The Spaniard then explained how optimistic he is about their chances of making an impact at the highest level.
“I think they are the right age and they have the space in the squad to do it and they are hungry and they have shown the desire to stay at the football club and fight to become the one of the regulars of the first team. “
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