Folarin Balogun leaving the Emirates Stadium in the summer is just one tale that is being told in repetition. But problems at Arsenal’s academy level are deeper than they first appeared. Talented and well-regarded youngsters such as Kido Taylor-Hart, Ben Sheaf, Zech Medley, Arthur Okonkwo and Josep Olowu are all set to leave the club, if not handed a contract extension.
The fact that such talent is leaving at the end of the season for free seems ridiculous. Other better-run clubs are always quick to tie down their best young guns to long-term contracts. But that doesn’t appear to be the case at London Colney.
Balogun, one of the most sort after teenage center-forwards in Europe, can legally enter a pre-contract agreement with any foreign club. He has continued to excel at youth level and has impressed when given the odd games in the Europa League.
Taylor-Hart is yet another youngster who does not have a contract with Arsenal beyond summer 2021. The 18-year-old has trained with the first-team on numerous occasions and is believed to have impressed Arteta with his style of play. But his contractual situation is similar to Balogun.
After shining for the Arsenal U18, where he has 10 goal involvements in nine appearances this season, he was promoted to the U23 squad. He has one assist to his name in eight appearances in PL Division 2. The left winger is quite adept at playing on the opposite flank too.
Whereas Ben Sheaf’s current manager at Coventry City said that the club have an obligation rather than the option to buy the midfielder, if certain criteria is met. Selling players such as Sheaf might be reasonable. But only if you are receiving a decent amount for it.
After switching West Ham for Arsenal in 2014 and then making his debut in 2017, Arsene Wenger said, “He’s always ahead of the game and his anticipation quality is absolutely huge.”
“There is something in him that I believe will allow him to progress always.
“Because he analyses well what’s happening to him, he assesses well what is going on and that’s why I believe he will have a good career.” But it now appears like if Sheaf has a good football career ahead of him, it will not be at Arsenal.
The other in the line is Arthur Okonkwo, Arsenal’s U23 goalkeeper. He has nine clean sheets in 20 appearances for the youth teams of Arsenal. Another young prospect leaving for nothing or a nominal fee seems absurd.
As Arteta said in his latest press conference that it’s better to keep their talent “in their house.” Thus, the Gunners must back up their manager’s resolution in keeping the finest talents of Hale End at the Emirates, or at least tie them to contracts from which the North-London outfit can make some money.
It is a case of being smart in transfer window world, and Arsenal Football Club have fell short of it.
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