Arsenal: Why I promoted Okonkwo, Balogun to first team – Mikel Arteta

Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta, has said that he promoted Nigerian descents, Arthur Okonkwo and Folarin Balogun, to his squad first-team because they have raised the level of the Gunners’ academy.

Arteta believes both Okonkwo and Balogun are now mature to the point where they can’t play in the academy, adding that he had to create space for them in Arsenal’s first team.

The Spaniard added that both players have the hunger and they showed the desire to stay at Arsenal and fight to become one of the first-team regulars.

Arteta stated this ahead of Arsenal’s Florida Cup tie against Inter Milan on Sunday.

Speaking on Okonkwo and Balogun’s promotion, Arteta told Arsenal media, “It is great.

“That is the first thing they have to realise, the hard work is not done yet. The hard work is going to start right now, and the expectations start right now and if they have this mentality, they have the potential, we believe in them and they will have the opportunities.”

“Both of them are really different but at the same time very similar,” Arteta added.

“They have both raised the level of the academy to the point that it wasn’t any more for them, so we had to look to create the space around the first team for them to be able to develop in the way that we want them to.

“I think they are the right age and they have space in the squad to do that and they have the hunger and they showed the desire to stay at the football club and fight to become one of the first-team regulars.”

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