Folarin Balogun scored his 15th goal of the season at u18 level on Saturday, and it’s now surely only a matter of time until he gets promoted to the u23s.
Balogun signed his first professional contract with Arsenal earlier this month, and it’s no surprise to see The Gunners keen to get him tied down professionally. Only counting his u18 matches, the striker has 15 goals and three assists in just 15 games this season, a goal contribution every 73 minutes on average.
The 17-year-old has made a trio of appearances at u21 and u23 level this campaign, but he’s only played a combined 9 minutes across all three of them.
The problem is that Eddie Nketiah is still only on the fringes of the first team, meaning he still drops down to play a lot of games for the u23s. Meanwhile, Tyreece John-Jules is ahead of Balogun in the pecking order as well, so when Nketiah isn’t starting for the top academy side, John-Jules is.
Nonetheless, u23 boss Freddie Ljungberg is going to find it hard to keep leaving Balogun out for long. It’s clear the striker is simply too good for his u18 opponents, and he needs to be tested at a higher age level to keep improving.
For the remainder of the campaign, the player himself seems content to accept where he is, telling the Arsenal website that his goal is to finish the season as the U18 Premier League’s top scorer. However, if he’s not starting u23 matches next season, it would be a big surprise.