Arthur Okonkwo signs new Arsenal contract

Robbie Copeland
Okonkwo is now an Arsenal first-team player
Okonkwo is now an Arsenal first-team player / MB Media/Getty Images

Arsenal have signed Arthur Okonkwo to a long-term professional contract, and have promoted the teenage keeper to their first-team permanently.

Okonkwo has risen through the ranks at the Emirates recently and made the transition from under-18 to under-23 level when he was just 17 years old.

He thoroughly impressed in Premier League 2 last season, and trained with the first-team squad towards the end of the campaign, earning himself a spot on the bench for the first time against Olympiacos in the Europa League. His impressive development continued, and he was named in the squad for both semi-final legs against Villarreal.

The promising youngster, who has represented England at under-18 level, had been out of contract since 30 June. But Arsenal have retained his services for the years ahead, and have called him up to the first-team squad with the shirt number 33.

Manager Mikel Arteta told the Arsenal website: “We welcome Arthur to the first-team squad. We are so happy another academy player has come through our system at the club.

"Together with Arthur’s huge talent and hard work, we thank our colleagues at the academy for developing Arthur in recent years to get to this stage, they are doing great work with the players’ development here and should be really proud.

“Arthur was working and travelling a lot with the first team last season and we have all seen his quality at first hand. He is a strong young goalkeeper with great potential and we’re so pleased he has signed a new deal. He has absolutely earned his place in the first-team squad. 

"Arthur will now join us every single day in training, where we look forward to watching him continue to develop and improve his goalkeeping. I know all our fans will join me in congratulating Arthur on this positive step in his career.”

Okonkwo will likely serve as third-choice behind Bernd Leno and Runar Alex Runarsson next season - though could overtake the latter in the pecking order if he continues to impress.