Folarin Balogun scored his 20th goal of the season for the Arsenal academy on Monday, and he’s trying to stay focused on taking his chances when they fall his way.
Balogun played his first full half of u23 football on Monday, after spending most of the campaign with the u18s. He took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring to inspire a comeback from 2-0 down to 2-2. U23 coach Freddie Ljungberg added that “there was a blatant penalty on Flo (Balogun) in the last minute” to make it 3-2, but it wasn’t given.
The striker spoke to the Arsenal website after the game about wanting to have an impact and waiting for chances.
“I just thought that we needed to add more tempo to the game and I wanted to make an impact,” Balogun said. “I knew that once we upped the tempo and grabbed the first goal we were always going to grab something from the game.
“At the end of the day, I just want to help the team every week and if I can help with a goal or two every now and then I’ll be happy. I just need to trust that when I get the chance I’m going to take it. I’ve got to be patient and keep working on the training ground, then I’ll see where it takes me.”
The 17-year-old is having one of the best youth seasons of any Arsenal academy striker in recent years. He’s scored 20 goals in 22 games, as well as providing four assists so far. Eddie Nketiah hit 24 goals and five assists in 33 matches two seasons ago at Balogun’s age, but the u18 striker has a number of games left to make up the difference.
More to the point, he just looks like a top talent. He’s not just finishing chances, but he’s creating them for himself and his teammates with his pace, his strength and his runs in behind. He’s a nightmare for defenders at u18 level, and hopefully, he can transfer that form up the levels to the u23s and then the first team in the coming years.
You can watch comprehensive highlights of Balogun’s season so far in the compilation below: