Folarin Can Go. by AI
Folarin Balogun is a good player, no doubt. How good is he, however? Nobody knows. But we know he can be as good as Nketiah and can fetch a decent price in the transfer market within a few seasons. This means he is good value to add to the first team even if he fails to come good. Young, English players are pricey these days.
However, Folarin is putting himself in a difficult situation with the club. He is, according to reports, asking for immediate first-team minutes before he signs a new contract as well as wages more sizable than Eddie Nketiah’s, Reiss Nelson’s, Emile Smith-Rowe’s and Bukayo Saka’s.
He has a decent argument for himself. He is a young player at a big club where he can easily fall out of contention with each transfer window. If he is going to sign a new contract, he needs assurances one way or another that he will be played, or at least enjoy big wages failing that. He also considers himself to be a very good young player and the line of suitors at the door is some proof of that. Arsenal have to align with his ambition and that is a good thing to desire.
However, Folarin is missing the point. The club has at least 4 strikers ahead of him. Realistically, after Lacazette and Aubameyang, Martinelli would start ahead of him at center forward. Eddie Nketiah is also another option who Arsenal want to see how his development will go. Despite all the fan sentiment, Eddie Nketiah is more proven than Folarin Balogun at every level, including the youth league. Nketiah has been quite decent in the Championship, Europa League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup competitions. Still only 21, it would be criminal for Arsenal to conclude that that’s how far he can go. Nketiah has goals in him, no doubt. The only question is how well his general play can be improved. This is down to the coaching staff. If they think they can improve Nketiah’s general play, then they must attempt to do so. Nketiah is already a 10-goal a season 21-year-old talent in the EPL if he plays full minutes. In two to three years, he may prove himself to be a 20-goal talent. Arsenal cannot gamble with that chance, especially when coaches like Arteta and Bielsa think he can be improved.
Folarin might be better. But the fact is that we do not know. However, Arsenal are willing to give him a chance by trying to extend his contract. This is the club that has trained him for years now. If Folarin thinks he won’t get chances at Arsenal because of reasons apart from his ability then he is short-sighted and badly advised. In two years, Arsenal will no longer have Aubameyang or Lacazette at the club. The position is essentially free for him to have a go at, even if it involves going out on loan.
Arsenal’s record with youngsters put the lie to the fear of not getting minutes. If he thinks he has what it takes to get into this Arsenal team, then he will have the opportunity to do so, especially now that Arteta is looking for a new striker.
If he does not sign a new contract, Arsenal will be daft to play him, as this will only give him more leverage against the club. Playing him and losing him is the worst option. No kid should have that kind of leverage against us. We are Arsenal and not some small club starved of good academy players. Only last season, we let Sam Greenwood go to Leeds.
We have no shortage of good quality youngsters, especially strikers in the academy. Tyreece John-Jules is the highest rated prospect and Nikolaj Moller has come in to challenge him for that assessment. Both of them are very good young strikers. Folarin Balogun is only older than both. Even if we lose all of them, we can still poach top talent from any academy in the world.
Emile Smith-Rowe was once regarded as the biggest prospect we had and yet he was sent out on loan. Bukayo Saka has been in and out of the team for two years now. Willock, Nketiah, Nelson, Maitland-Niles and even Iwobi were all once waiting for first team opportunities. None of them demanded huge wages to stay here. If we give Folarin Balogun what he is asking for, how much should the likes of Catalin Cirjan, Miguel Azeez and Charlie Patino ask for?
Loyalty is an essential part of what we should try to teach youngsters. Everyone knows that Arsenal will give minutes to any deserving youngster. This culture of loyalty and merit must not be bent by some kid who wants everything now. Arsenal don’t have to play Folarin. He should settle down, improve his attitude, work hard and wait for the opportunities that will surely come his way. If that is too much for him, then he can go. Hopefully, his representatives will give him the right advice. Opportunity at Arsenal is huge. His career can be shot into the upper echelon by the mere fact that he is associated with us. Less talented players have maximized that opportunity. And at the moment, there are plenty of very talented youngsters coming through in his position for us.