Folarin Balogun is likely to leave Arsenal this summer after failing to agree a new contract with the club, according to a report.
David Ornstein reports for The Athletic that Folarin Balogun will probably leave Arsenal this summer. The striker reportedly made the decision that his future lies elsewhere, and Arsenal will do business for a suitable bid in the summer.
Balogun only has a year left on his contract with the club, and the Gunners would rather not lose him for free. They’d try to work a sell-on clause into any exit agreement.
Arsenal already rejected a £5m offer from Brentford for the player in January. At the time, they were still hoping to find a breakthrough in talks over his future.
For the most part, Balogun had a solid first full season with the u23s this campaign. The 18-year-old made 19 appearances, scored 13 goals and provided five assists in all competitions.
There are some caveats to that. Firstly, penalties. Three of those goals came directly from the spot, plus one from a rebound after he missed a penalty (which wasn’t the only one he missed this season).
Also, he would’ve made quite a few more appearances, and maybe even had more first-team chances, if not for injuries in late 2019. He picked up a knock in October, then missed six weeks with an ankle injury in November.
As a result of the injuries and a dip in form, he didn’t score a goal in the Premier League 2 from late September to early February. That was a run of six league appearances and three missed games. All the same, Balogun still had a decent u23 record overall.
Why didn’t he get more senior chances?
The simple answer is ‘competition’. Arsenal may not have a particularly strong squad right now, but they have Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front, so they aren’t lacking a centre-forward.
Then there’s Eddie Nketiah, staking his claim in the team right now. Nketiah’s record at youth level was even better than Balogun’s, and he already has experience in senior teams on his side.
Unai Emery preferred to give Gabriel Martinelli a chance in the middle when he could’ve played Balogun, and unfortunately for the academy youngster, Martinelli was excellent there. Arguably he’s proving a much better centre-forward talent than a winger.
To add to the list, Tyreece John-Jules is slightly ahead of Balogun in the pecking order too. He got a loan in January, but before that, he was closer to senior games than his youth teammate.
Even if you look at the younger age groups, Balogun has to compete with upcoming talents like Sam Greenwood and Khayon Edwards. Arsenal are really churning out strikers right now.
That’s not to say Balogun doesn’t deserve a chance. As a pure centre-forward, he seems like one of the biggest talents of the lot. It was surprising not to see him at least taking part in first-team training more often, and he could’ve had a loan in January.
But he still had areas of his game to work on, as is normal for an 18-year-old. There seems to be a bit too much impatience around the academy right now.
Look at Nketiah, who only got his first league start in February at 20 and is now a regular. He waited for his chance and now he’s getting it, even with Lacazette and Aubameyang in the squad.
There’s no guaranteeing the senior duo won’t both leave this summer too, opening up a spot. All this to say, if Balogun leaves, there’s fault on both sides.