Why are Arsenal fans so certain that Balogun will be a future star?

Who’s Actually Seen Balogun Play 90 Mins? By Dan

Over the weekend Arsenal tweeted the news that Folarin Balogun has been judged by Four Four Two magazine as one of the top 50 teenagers in World Football. It’s not like the club have anything else to celebrate…

As things stand the young striker is allowed to discuss a move with anyone abroad. He could sign with a side outside the UK and there is nothing his employer could do about it.

So much for not allowing players anymore to enter the last year of their contract?

It’s believed the 19-year-old’s preference is to stay at the Emirates. To be fair his failure to extend his stay seems to not be motivated by money but assurance he will play.

He’s been with us since the age of 8 so while it’s believable that he loves the Gunners, he clearly backs his own ability and is not willing to be slowly transitioned into the first team.
So Mikel Arteta has been let down by those responsible for contracts (can’t blame Mr Wenger for this one).

Our manager clearly rates the youngster but shouldn’t feel the only way to keep him is by playing him in the league.

To be a big club you act like a big club. That’s why Arsenal have to call the player’s bluff, only play him when the manager feels he is ready. If that leads to him departing as a free agent, then that’s too bad. You can’t have a teenager handing out ultimatums to a club our size.

Think back to a Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. What do you think they would say if a 19-year old’s agent said the only way his client would stay was if he got promises? It’s not like Arsenal have to prove to anyone their ability to give youth a chance.

Sir Alex once let a young Piqué and Pogba walk away from Old Trafford, not because he doubted their talent, but no one was bigger than the badge. He needed to send a message that there were standards and no person ((however good) could be asking for a guarantee.

As long as we offer him a fair pay-rise and explained how a Saka and Smith are proof you can graduate from our academy to first team, that’s all we can do. If after that he still doesn’t want to be in North London, then that’s fine, let him go.

I only want players wearing the shirt who care, certainly not those who believe in their hype without doing anything in senior football.

It’s easy for some gooners to say they would have started him in the League by now but that’s with hindsight. No one could have envisaged our forwards would be as bad as they have been.

Even now, we need to try and rescue this campaign by at the minimum finishing 7th (I assume that will be enough to qualify for Europe) or by trying to win the Europa League. Would you really decide that Benfica away is the correct time to play a rookie just to keep him sweet?

Finally I want to ask all readers an honest question? If you would like to answer, feel free to do so in the comments.

Apart from the couple of sub appearances he made in the Europa League, how many hof you have actually seen Balogun play?

For those worrying we might lose this future star, or for those demanding he should play for the First Team so that he changes his mind; What are you basing this on?

Unless you regularly watch our under 23 side, all the hype is coming from the media (who have done this before). Remember how Eddie Nketiah was the next Ian Wright? That was equally based on his record for the reserves.

So again; I ask out of interest, who’s seen this kid play?

If you haven’t, we have to trust our manager, who sees him every day in training and should only play him when he’s earnt it, not because he wants a new contract.

Be kind in the comments…


Tags Folarin Balogun


  1. Since you have asked a question let me ask one how can we see him play if he is not given an opportunity to play in the first team to prove himself? If he is good as he seems to think he is let him show us how good he is. MA did not think Saliba was good enough or ready to play yet he has been voted player of the month in Nice. just shows even managers can be wrong.

    1. I think you have missed his point. He is asking people who say Bologunner is good where did they see him play? What are they basing their claim on? To be honest I never knew of the kid but the hype he is getting one might think he is the next Mbappe.

      It is an interesting question and I am interested to see the responses.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but for me he should at least be ahead of Nketiah in the pecking order. Nketiah has done little to impress and he doesn’t even seem to suit our style, Balogun can hold the ball up and lead the line like Lacazette.

    1. Totally agree with this comment.
      Nketiah has had a fair crack of the whip and to be honest has shown nothing to suggest he is going to improve our front line.
      Nketiah is the record goal scorer for England U21’s but they are one of the top teams and create masses of chances so you’d expect him to score a good few with them.
      The times I have seen Balogan play he was brilliant at hold up play, has a good turn of speed and scored goals so well worth a punt on the bench for the first team.

  3. Why not give him a chance to prove himself? He showed better qualities than Nketiah in Europa games. I know it’s not the same as PL, but Nketiah has done nothing to hold Balogun off for game time.

    Trust the manager you say? The same that admitted he was wrong on not registering Saliba for Europa? That’s one example of many regarding his poor man management skills.

    Trust him leaving Martinelli on bench in favor of Willian? He still has not been able to fix our toothless attack 6 months into the season.

    Why not should be the question, not why.

      1. No one is questioning Nketiah’s quality for U-23 performances. Problem is, he still hasn’t translated any of that to the PL. What parts of his game has he improved since he’s been in the first team?

        Nketiah clearly not ready for PL, it is obvious to anyone who watches him play. What does Arteta have to lose by giving Balogun minutes instead? It’s a fair question to ask, and why not let the two youngsters compete for minutes?

  4. If he turns out to be a superstar it won’t be at Arsenal prob already agreed something with a new club and will be gone in the summer.

  5. A very fair and also PERTINENT question to ask us all DAN. Personally, I have not see him play at all,other than the few minuties he played as sub in our first team.

    I have though seen enough to have a definite opoinion that Nketiah is way behind him in usefulness , having a skinny frame, no power and no out of the very ordinary ability.
    As such, I am with most gooners -who will also not have seen BALOGUN hardly at all, in thinking that, of the two, if either is to make the grade, then BALOGUN should be given the chance above ordinary Eddie.
    FAIR COMMENT ? I think so , personally!

  6. Balogun is far better than Nkatia, Arsenal should give him a chance in the first team and that mistake that a arsen winger make during Ganibry

  7. Agree with you that nobody is bigger than the club.

    But how do you know that he has asked for game time guarantees? These are negotiations that go on behind closed doors.

    IMHO fans are not as stupid as Pundits or some in management make them out to be.

    It is also the sum of the whole set of fans (majority of whom what is best for the club) as against a few making decisions (which could be based on egos or personal bias). If 90% are saying one thing, why only trusting the regime and its decisions makes sense.

    Does freezing out someone make any sense, be it William Saliba, Folarin Balogan or even Mesut Ozil in the previous squad?

    I feel strongly about this in that it is the job of fans to question decisions of the management as much as it is the job of the labour party to hold the current government accountable for the way it has handled the Covid situation.

    1. IGL. In your final paragraph , you are mixing up two diverse concepts.

      But is is not the job of fans, en masse, to routinely distrust club and management decisions and contantly question, insult and upbraid a manager and call for his head.

      I believe in trusting people, at least UNTIL there is enough certain evidence that my trust has been proved wrong. I also allow that no human is perfect and that any reasonable person accepts that all others will make mistakes, just as we all do personally ourselves, whoever we are and in all walks of life, including being a football manager of a top club or even a Prime Minister.

      It may seem obvious but running a country is far more important than running a mere football club, HOWEVER MUCH we fans may love our club. Perspective needs to be given!

      1. Sorry Jon Fox
        I am not in agreement with you but never forget to respect a fellow fan.
        Fans are more invested in the club out of sheer love just like the public are in the country. MP’s are mere representatives of the people. A lot more than the board who are mere employees to do a job. Sometimes, the decision taken has to be questioned.

        I believe in TRUST too. But they have to earn our trust with good deeds. Whilst there have been many good deeds by the current regime like trimming the squad, there have been an equivalent amount of bad deeds. Until the ratio of Good:Bad is 2:1, I cannot put the blind faith. So we shall agree to disagree on this one. But always respect.

  8. I think his playing style is similar to Afobe’s/ Akpom’s/ Nketiah’s and I don’t think he could offer something different than his predecessors. Since Arteta’s system is still volatile, we need a lone striker who could give us a plan B in the second halves like Giroud

    Lacazette’s hold-up ability is good, his work rate is commendable and he’s good in tight spaces as well, but he’s too slow and too small to be a target man. We need an upgrade and Balogun has to show that he could be Lacazette’s replacement in the reserve games first

  9. Hi Dan , great write-up but I can’t trust arteta who has s.rowe all this while yet he plays willock the first few minutes given to saka convinced me that we have a star on our hand Eddie should be sold to raise cash bring in balogun to be the forth choice and yes I will play him against benfica

  10. Nketiah, Aubamayang, and Lacazette are playing like amateurs, so what’s the problem with giving Folarin and Martinelli a try. If things don’t change the stay as they are. Can’t be worse than what is going on now.
    Shame there is no article studying why Arteta treated William Saliba so inhumanely. How Arteta is still managing this club is beyond me? I doubt if the Kroenke’s know how vengeful Arteta is. Look at how Arteta has treated certain Emery signings. Arteta’s man management is a disgrace and in way over a year we are no better as a team or club…. and our club ethics have gone down the pan. What a poverty struck manager we have. Inhumane and unethical. No wonder the club is degrading, with an unethical owner and an unethical manager. Arteta is like a football ‘self harmer’ destined for failure and taking us with him.

    1. @sean Williams: Amazingly not many fans realize the glaring flaws in MA’s relationship with his players.

      It seems like the only lesson he learned from Guardiola is how to be vindictive.

      Sadly his actions come with a steep price by letting players out of their contracts.

      Make no mistake those losses will harm the club for many years to come.

  11. While I agree with your article and to be fair, there’s no guarantee he’ll perform as expected if given the chance. But with some things in life especially in football, nothing is guaranteed. Who knew Auba was going to go on a goal drought. There was hardly an arsenal fan who didn’t want him to sign the new contract, same with Ozil.
    But as a coach, your primary team selection job is to play your best team. And from what I’ve seen Balogun play, he’s got a better footballing brain than an Eddie nketia. He’s faster and taller and better with his hold up play and shooting than Eddie. There should be no reason Arteta should put Eddie ahead of him based on current form. He should be contending with lacazette for the starting role as a number 9. We’ve seen Arteta make some errors in judgment before with players like Saliba, willian etc. These decisions do not help his case in determining who is playing better or not in training. It took willian to be down with covid before an ESR could get into the team and show what he can do. An injury to Tierney, gave Saka an opening into the first team under Emery, Arteta would have been attacked by the fans if he dropped him when he took the job. Martinelli was a fan favourite, injury cost him his role in the team and despite that he’s better than willian, Arteta still fails to use him.

    1. Excellent argument Kstix. I enjoyed reading your comment. I like it even more because it crush to powder all arguments in support of excluding Mesut in the team when he was Arsenal player.

      1. “I like it even more because it crush to powder all arguments in support of excluding Mesut in the team when he was Arsenal player”

        It really doesnt

  12. Arsenal fans are looking for a savior. They know the manager isn’t good enough so they are hoping for a superstar to just pop up. A manager who can’t get Aubameyang and lacazette to score is going to take a kid and light up the world talk about realist.
    Who thinks when the likes of Henry,bergkamp,pires,Wilshire,Fabregas,ozil,vanpersie,Sanchez played at top form it was all on them.
    Coaching matters.

  13. I am fairly biased towards Balogun solely based on his name…..Emile Smith Rowe earned his chance by chance. The cards fell his way with the injuries….Balogun has had no such luck. The time he has however been given he has scored and assisted. What is wrong with giving him a two year contract and promise to progress him based on how he trains along the same thing that was done with Phil Foden. He (Phil Foden) has had to bide his time. He should trust the process. In one year if he is not satisfied he can still move on.

  14. It’s a catch 22. He wants to know he’s in the future plans, which means more game time whereas MA probably doesn’t want to give loads of game time to someone who won’t commit to the club.
    We could play him loads to the end of the season and if he did well we could find he uses that to get a better move somewhere else, which would make us look like chumps. Personally I’d still give him the opportunity if he’s good enough as we’re probably going to look stupid whether we play him or not (and as many have pointed out, Nketiah just doesn’t look a viable option after many chances)

  15. Balogan is another Gnabry situation! We will regret selling him he is just too good.
    OT: Saliba trying to be a p*rn director?? That what these boys do in the dressing room? Oh boy.

    1. Oh my just seen the clip
      Think it’s Matuidi ,that’s some weird crap going on in that dressing room 😂

  16. Interesting blog. I think a lot of the clamour for Balogun is probably a bit ‘what if’ based – people will always be driven by the fear of missing out on a potentially good player, rather than being driven by what they actually know or have seen for themselves.

    What I do think has some merit are the calls for Balogun to be placed above Nketiah in the pecking order. I think it’s absolutely right Nketiah is given his opportunity, however I don’t think he’s delivered enough or shown enough promise in terms of his playing style, so at what point do you pass the opportunity onto the next in line?

    What’s clear is Balogun is not the first and certainly won’t be the last player to absolutely smash it at youth level – some have gone on to be great, others not.

        1. Hey @NotThatPhil.
          I assure you you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for Phil, he can be a little outspoken at times!
          Can’t you @Phil?

  17. Good question I’d be lying if i said i watched him play a lot but I’m guessing many fans are desperate to see another academy graduate break into the 1st team as for Balogun i don’t understand his thinking process he is 19 training with the first team at a club like Arsenal does he not realise how lucky he is?he should look at Foden 3years between his 1st app to this season and he wasn’t really playing at the start of the season but during those 3 years he worked hard learned from better more experienced players away from the limelight/pressure look at him now Pep managed him well!it seems to be a British thing look at the England national team how many players went straight to the 1st team when comparing to France it very rarely happens look at the U21 team up until recently included players like Thuram Aouar Guendouzi and many more while players like Edouard Mellier Dembele Saliba Fofana..are still in that team!

  18. Wenger wanted to keep Gabnabry but he wanted to leave. Balogun wants to stay but not given a real chance.
    Eddie is OK nothing more and he needs to play Martinelli up front pepe, on the left Saka on the right.
    Aba and laca on the bench. Time for the youths with talent.

    1. Frankly I find it shocking that some fans on here have never seen our u23 ‘s play so if you never seen the lad play 90min why comment about his ability. For those who are interested the next game is Friday the 12th of Feb starting at 7pm live on MUTV. Arteta had numerous chances to give the lad a go, but he choose not to, again for non footballing reasons. The boy has shown enough and he deserves his shot just like Saka and Smith Rowe. That’s why certain senior players can keep the club ransom for crazy money, cause our coach don’t allow talented and skillfull youngsters to compete for the first eleven. Just look at Auba after he signed tha thing.

      1. Some fans talk as if there’s an assurance that Balogun will definitely be a hit. When Nketiah came on vs Norwich and scored 2 goals im the FA cup, most fans said he’s better than Giroud. See what fans are saying now?

        If Martinelli continue to play like this, am very sure some fans will start to slate him. I don’t know if a fortune teller has whispered in some fans ear that Balogun will hit at another club.

  19. Nobody is bigger than the badge but he is a good player that I would pick him over that flop nketiah besides give him the chance to prove him self

  20. I watch all the Arsenal U23 games on YouTube and there are a number of very talented players on view, including Balogun. One would expect this for a club like Arsenal.
    Again, as stated by Dan, the situation with Balogun reaching the last year of his contract, highlights the poor management of player contracts at Arsenal.

  21. Considering the lack of transparency regarding the manner by which these Top 50 lists are generated, the fact that Balogun appeared in the most recent incarnation means very little in the grand scheme of things…of course, it’s a nice feather in your cap for a young up-and-coming player and almost assuredly must be better than not being on the list, but every one of our young prospects have graced the pages of this mag at some point, to mixed results, at least so far, on the field (Eddie, ESR, Marts, Saka, Willock, Guendo, Reiss etc…)

    the bigger questions raised by your article deals directly with your assumptions regarding both Arteta’s thoughts and actions towards the player in question and what you believe are the primary motivations of our longtime asset…based on my research of the matter, although Arteta has spoken publicly about his wishes for the player to remain at the club, his private actions seem to suggest otherwise…now it’s true that Arsenal rejected a 5M offer from Brentford last January, but not necessarily because Arteta desperately wanted to keep him at the club, they simply wanted about 3M more

    it was clear his representation, Elite Project Group, who likewise represents his main competitor for minutes, Eddie, wasn’t pleased by Arsenal’s unwillingness to budge on their fee demands, but that doesn’t mean they sabotaged contract negotiations with the club as a result…of course, on the surface it makes some sense that his agency could potentially benefit from splitting up their similarly positioned clients, but their supposed displeasure didn’t negatively impact several other subsequent negotiated deals they made with the club involving other clients

    based on what how things have devolved with both Balo and Saliba it appears that Arteta has made some “promises” regarding first-team opportunities that simply never materialized, which has led to a fracturing of certain relationships…when it came time to either repair things and re-up Balo or sell him on and get some nominal return, Arteta’s mishandling of the situation came home to roost…without having being featured in a Premier League game and with the appearance that Eddie was clearly Arteta’s favourite option of the two moving forward, the negotiation process seemed to go sideways

    this was when the first time rumours leaked out that Balo reps were making considerably higher wage demands…surely this was a savvy plan created by his agents for a couple of fairly logical reasons…not only would this make it more difficultfor Arsenal to reach a transfer agreement with another club, especially those the likes of Brentford, and if no deal was forthcoming by the end of the summer window Balo could negotiate with any team he wished come January…whereas if the club acquiesced to his demands, even somewhat, it would seem likely they would be forced to give him proper first-team minutes to justify their investment

    so once again we have butchered another negotiation window through either management’s negligence or arrogance, which means not only will we get nothing in return for a player who has some real market value and we could likewise lose a potentially viable prospect at a time we can least afford such missteps, considering Eddie’s lack of progression and the fact that Laca could and should be sold in the summer

    not to mention that based on Arteta’s misplaced adoration of all things cross-related, it’s seems a bit sketchy that he didn’t even allow our best striker, when it comes to heading the ball, any Premier League minutes in what is quite obviously a transitional season where we struggled to score goals…as for the whole no one’s bigger than the badge argument, that seems unlikely to be the case here, as we’re talking about a player who’s been intimately connected to the club since the age of 8 and up until fairly recently appeared highly motivated to make a name for himself at the Emirates…in my estimation, Arteta’s plan, once negotiations broke down, was to not play Balo in the hopes that there might be less suitors come this summer, so that this might somehow dissuade him from seeking greener pastures elsewhere…sounds to me like another contract bungling with a classic Arsenal “hope for the best” chaser

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