Why Arsenal must keep hold of Folarin Balogun by Yash
The 19-year-old striker Balogun has made just five starts for Mikel Arteta’s men. Still his name keeps cropping up on a regular basis due to his contract status.
Everybody knows the drill. When a young player is immensely talented, their name is bound to make news, despite them being barely utilized in the first team. It is a similar case to Hudson Odoi. The club was continuously shouted at by the Chelsea faithful for not giving the young Englishman the minutes he needed for his development.
But Arsenal should be extremely careful in this situation. Even though Arteta and the Arsenal board are desperate to keep hold of the British-American, they should not just go out and throw him in the first team picture.
This, naturally, would send a wrong image, as other younger and talented Arsenal players would know what they really need to do if they want to enter Arsenal’s first team.
But Folarin Balogun is not just “any other player.” He is one of the most sort-after young players in Europe. To put that into more perspective, Arsenal rejected a £5m offer from Brentford in January 2020 for the prolific academy star, when he was nowhere near the first team. Advances from fellow Premier League club Sheffield United were also reportedly declined at the beginning of the campaign.
“No, I’m still very positive that Flo is going to stay with us and it’s what we’re trying to do as a club, and it’s what I’m trying to do as a manager,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“As far as I know from last week, the player wants to be here, so I’m positive. I think he’s made some big progress in a few months.”
He first rose into prominence in the 2017/18 season when he scored an impressive nine goals and assisted three times in the 14 U18 Premier league matches he featured in. The 19-year-old, who was born in New York but eventually moved to England at the age of two, has never looked back. An even better 25 goals and four assists were recorded the following season. While at the same time, he was slowly establishing himself at the under 23s level by racking up a few appearances here and there. When he eventually got promoted to the under 23s, his stats never took a serious blow. The then 17-year-old ended the PL 2 season on 14 goal contributions, almost one per match.
This season has been quite underwhelming if we compare him with his own “standards of the past.” One positive that he can reflect upon would be scoring two goals in the five appearances he made for the first team.
Nobody is doubting him and saying this is not a special player. If Arsenal intend to keep him beyond this summer, they must lay out a plan for their young.
Whatever happens, whether Arsenal choose Balogun over Nketiah, or whether they convince him to first gain experience somewhere else on loan. In the end, you do not get many youngsters who score within 37 seconds on their debut, do you?
Should Arsenal make sure that Balogun doesn’t leave the Emirates?
— Just Arsenal News (@JustArsenal) February 17, 2021