Six Arsenal u23s are set to leave the club in the summer as things stand, though that could still change in the coming months.
Football.London report that Folarin Balogun (striker), Kido Taylor-Hart (winger), Ben Sheaf (midfielder), Joseph Olowu (centre-back), Zech Medley (centre-back), and Arthur Okonkwo (goalkeeper) are all currently heading for an exit this summer.
Other than Sheaf, their contracts all expire in June. Sheaf’s potential exit is instead related to the fact that loan club Coventry City have an obligation to buy, based on various criteria.
Although, as we’ve reported before, Sheaf’s recent sudden absence from the Coventry City starting lineup raises the possibility that they’re deliberately not starting him to avoid activating that clause. We don’t know the exact details of the obligation clause.
Medley’s situation is also more complicated than simply being out of contract in 2021. Arsenal have an option to extend his deal by a further year, and they reportedly plan to do so.
As for the other four, there seems little chance of anything changing with Olowu – who is currently on loan at Wealdstone. Football.London report that it seems as though Okonkwo will leave as well.
With Balogun and Taylor-Hart, the situation isn’t quite so final just yet.
As things stand, it looks like both will leave, but we know Arsenal remain keen to keep Balogun with talks ongoing. Given the current line on Taylor-Hart is that he hasn’t been offered a new deal, it’s possible the club could offer him one and change that before June.
In my opinion, it would be a shame to lose Okonkwo, but Karl Hein is a promising alternative in goal. It’s a close thing between the two of them, so if Okonkwo doesn’t want to stay then Arsenal just have to back the goalkeeper that does.
Balogun would certainly be a loss but it’s up to his camp to commit and it has been for a long while.
I would be surprised if Arsenal didn’t offer Taylor-Hart a new deal, even if only to protect his value and sell him on in a year or two. Whether or not he makes it as a future starter, he has potential and it would be surprising to just let him go.
For Sheaf and Olowu, it does seem like the right time to move on, whilst the club should definitely extend Medley’s deal by a year before deciding whether to keep him and renegotiate a new contract or sell him.