Despite signing a new contract this year and being assured that he has a future at the club by manager Mikel Arteta, Folarin Balogun has struggled to become an established in the Arsenal first-team.
The center-forward was immediately thrown at the big picture in the opening matchday of the Premier League against promoted side Brentford.
However, he did not even manage to reach the hour-mark after being brought off by the Gunners boss. It was clear that he was not ready for the step up.
Since then, he hasn’t made a single start for the Arsenal. But England’s U21 coach, Lee Carsley, is of the opinion that the striker is good enough to be playing at a higher level than the U23 level.
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) November 7, 2021
“You need testing,” Carsley said. “Watching him in the Under 23s for Arsenal, it’s probably a little bit too easy for him and he’s passed that level.
“I imagine he wants to play for Arsenal and pushing for a position but it’s such a big club with a lot of competition.”
He continued, “They’ll have a career path for him and a way to break through because he’s got all the attributes. He’s level-headed, wants to work hard, asks really good questions. He wants information. He’s picking Ashley [Cole] and Joleon [Lescott]’s brains on defenders.
“I think it would be fair to say that a lot of the clubs in Europe would be aware of Flo’s qualities and if anything, he has just got to keep proving it to himself. He is the only person he’s got to impress and look himself in the mirror. He’s got outstanding ability, attributes and workrate and he is a player that people look forward to seeing.”
Arsenal's U23s are top of the PL2 after beating Leeds 4-2! 🙌
Balogun was amongst the goal scorers, he's now scored 9 goals in 7 appearances for the U23s this season! ⚽️
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) November 3, 2021
Arsenal fans are certainly ones who are desperate to watch him, playing for their team. But maybe the time is not right at the moment.
The Gunners already boast three center-forwards in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexander Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, who have loads of experience playing men’s football.
A loan move in January would be a wise decision, especially when there are so many Championship clubs tracking Balogun’s situation.
We all know how a six-month loan move for Emile Smith Rowe developed him as a player. He’s now an established first-team player for Arsenal and an England international.
It’s not crazy to think that Balogun can follow his footsteps.