Folarin Balogun’s departure would be a major disappointment

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According to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, Arsenal could be set to lose Folarin Balogun this summer.

The striker has a year remaining on his contract and the report indicates that, after an agreement was unable to be reached on a new deal, Arsenal want Balogun to leave this summer so that they avoid losing him for free. It is also said that the club will look to insert sell-on clauses into exit arrangements.

Firstly, losing Balogun at this stage in his development would be a major blow. The prospect is about to turn 19 and was the standout performer for Arsenal U23s this season, scoring ten goals in 15 appearances.

While Balogun is prolific in front of goal, he has much more to his game, with his pace and technique making him very difficult for opposing defenders to deal with.

For all that, though, his involvement with the first-team has been minimal. Although he has trained with the senior squad, he has received just one callup, for the Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest this season when he was an unused substitute.

Tyreece John-Jules, who was in the same scholarship intake as Balogun, certainly seems to be closer to the first-team at present. John-Jules was on the bench in the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Europa League this season (although he didn’t play) and was then sent out on loan to Lincoln to gain experience of senior football. In addition, he has been praised by Mikel Arteta, who likes his attitude and his link-up play.

It isn’t just John-Jules who Balogun has to compete with. Eddie Nketiah is now a key part of the first-team squad, while Gabriel Martinelli can also be used up front.

There will always be times when talented young players want to leave, and in some cases it is very difficult to keep them, especially if they feel that they can progress at a quicker rate elsewhere.

It would still be a major disappointment if Balogun was to leave, though, given the tremendous impact that he has made at youth level.

Arsenal have lost of host of highly-rated prospects in recent years. Some of them, including Serge Gnabry, Donyell Malen and Ismael Bennacer, are excelling on the big stage, while others have fallen by the wayside somewhat.

Failing to progress elsewhere isn’t always down to quality, either, as on some occasions players can’t adapt to a particular style of play, or they aren’t given the opportunities they feel they deserve.

Arsenal have many talented young strikers on their books beyond the first-team. The likes of John-Jules, Sam Greenwood and Khayon Edwards are all good prospects, but Balogun is arguably the best academy striker at the club.

Given his potential, Arsenal should be doing all they can to try and keep Balogun. His recent omission from first-team training gave the indication that all was not well, and now it seems that his time at the club could be coming to an end.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Charles

That will be quite unfortunate. But we can’t keep them all, that means some might feel unappreciated and might want to go to some other club to prove themselves. I will love him to stay because of his obvious talent, but if he must move on, then I wish him all the best.

goongot

I trust mikel on this one. Hopefully we have a buy back clause. This kid on youtube clips seems to be the most talented amongst the strikers we have in academy including nketiah.But youtube made sanogo look good as well.

Lanre

Very bad news. We should be pulling all the stops to keep Balogun, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t understand this club. This guy is arguably better than Nketiah and we leave him to rot in the academy and call John-jules up? What is the point of the academy then? Now he’s gonna leave and a season from now we will be scrambling around for a striker when Auba or Laca inevitably leaves. This is a really poor decision and it just feels like one we will regret. We can sign Luiz up for millions but not this guy.

Cygans Parting

This is very worrying. He should be at least training with the first team now that Martinelli is not there in the sessions because of injury. He’s been one of the best players in the youth set up and unless there are issues we don’t know about then he should be being assessed by Arteta and his coaching staff regularly at 19 years old. He’s been lethal for our under 18s and under 23s. I realize that it’s a big step up from that level to premier League but he should be being shown a path to our first team.… Read more »

MikeAntony

I had high hopes for this kid! I hope we know what we are doing, because this move feels very wrong to me..

Vonnie

If a young player doesn’t want to stick around there’s nothing the club can do. Since Sancho the whole youth scene has changed, with agents snapping up youngsters and promising them big things. A strong sell on clause would be the best we could do if he is intent on leaving, and I agree that the club should sell and get rid of any negativity his situation may be causing. It’s a pity because he’s an excellent young player.

Afromugo

It’s sad that Balogun is leaving but a little context to his departure. He shares an agent with Lookman, Sancho, Josh Maja, Clinton Mola -ex chelsea and the likes so I’m not surprised he might be wanting to go abroad at this age. Also Saka and Eddie are part of the agency. While Balogun has been prolific, there need not to be disrespect to the strikers ahead of him (as is happening on twitter). Balogun scored 39 goals in 46 games with 32 of those as a 17 year old second year scholar. Eddie scored 42 goals in 48 appearances… Read more »

TCGNR

Thank you for this. Seems a bit weird that everybody’s freaking out about this when a) it could be as simple as him wanting more playing time – he’s behind a bunch of equally talented guys at Arsenal, unfortunately b ) Do people not think Arteta and his coaching staff know better? I mean, these guys are so close to these academy kids, they see so much that we never will; trust the manager. Maybe his attitude is shit? Or maybe we just lose one of the good ones? It’s unrealistic to think we can keep all of them.

TheSkins

I think the reaction is probably due to some of the mistakes we’ve made letting go of players at this level in the recent past (a few highlighted by blogs in this article). I agree though, you can’t keep em all.

Kostas

I am freaking out about this.
The argument that not all players will develop in the future is not convincing. Sure not everyone will be a star but since Now we have to make a decision I would have tried to keep him. Find solutions for his playing time and development within Arsenal. Loans, buy back clauses, insurance for Cup or Europa (haha) participation.

We will not be able to buy stars in the calibre of Aubameyang. We should try our best to build our own ones. Folarin is a keeper.

David Lee

This is really bad news. He looks a real talent. If he does go we definitely need buyback clause. I was hoping that he might break into the first team next season.

Goontang

To be fair, Nketiah is starting on a regular basis and we can’t afford to have 2 young acadamy players leading the line. So i don’t think a kid of his talent can afford to wait.

Sell for cheap with a buy back option maybe?

kaius

Sound analysis as always Jeorge.

Sadly for a player like Folarin, what the first-team needs is more midfielders and defenders, not more attackers. And what he probably wants is a clear pathway to first-team football from the start of next season.

Jimbo1

If Aubameyang leaves then there will be space, especially as Lacazette is in such poor form. He might not be as far away from the first team as he thinks.

kaius

That doesn’t change his situation much. If Auba leaves and Laca’s poor form continues, Eddie and Gabriel Martinelli will get more starts, meaning the best Balogun is looking at is the sub’s bench.

Far some of today’s young prospects, getting consistent, competitive starts is their top priority

Yak

If Aubameyang leaves we’re buying another experienced striker, period! There’s no way a club like Arsenal would go into a season with only one seasoned striker.

Toure Motors

We definitely shouldn’t but we probably would/ could. David luiz up top?

Obama Young

Pepe actually could move to striker, it’s where Bielsa had him playing.
We could move both Auba and Laca, move Pepe to striker and go with a total youth movement.

catbiscuits

Didn’t we do that a few seasons ago? I remember some matches where if Giroud was injured or not fancied, then we started with Gervinho (!) or Sanogo up front. I suppose Walcott and Podolski were around, but Wenger never really fancied them as CFs.
 
 

Robert H

Remember the years post RVP? We regularly only had one #9 and used players like Podolski, Walcott and others there who were not natural in that position. Yaya Sanogo started pivotal champions league and FA cup games for us.

Sachin

TBH as much potential he has and possible departures of Auba/Laca he can’t possibly cope with the brutal physical demands of EPL right away. Nous and battle-hardy forwards are critical to every team.   I’m kinda disheartened that we have no coherent strategy in how to develop young players. I’m gobsmacked at how Chelsea have finally started to make it work where all they were doing in the past years is give players away on loan.   Hopefully Per is having a long think on how to get young players to believe and see the long term picture. No point… Read more »

Sussexfan

I watched Smith-Rowe in Huddersfield v Forest, he was sub and came after about an hour. He looked quietly efficient amongst his crap teammates. I think his time there is just teaching him to lose graciously, get him back home for his own good!

Benedict Benjamin

This is something serious,he can be among the first arsenal team player since our star martinelli has undergone a knee injury and the star is not going to be available till the rest of the season.let’s try him for ones please arteta.

Giuseppe Hovno

I have no skill at identifying whether this reflects a flawed strategy at Arsenal youth level or if it is just an unfortunate that could not be avoided. Jorge, you say it would be a major dissapointment but in your opinion, is it Arsenal’s fault or was it unavoidable?

cowadunga

Taking the lead in the coming talent exodus to next stage farmer clubs, before they maybe go to top clubs.

allezkev

The initial reaction when hearing this news is to think that Arsenal have messed up again with a contract and then you read that he has the same agent as Jaydon Sancho and it begins to make sense. Money is going to be at the core of things but also 1st team opportunities as well because more of those equates to more exposure for the player leading to better contracts and more commission for Mr Agent. The agent will know what Arsenal are offering for Saka and what Eddie is on (future issues with him perhaps?) so he can unsettle… Read more »

Rohan

I always take whatever Ornstein says with a pinch of salt, and that’s proven to be a decent rule of thumb thus far.

Spanish Gooner

Ornstein has been pretty much spot on with everything bar Nuri Sahin in the last decade

Chamakhyungpark

Dude, he is literally know as the Ornicale.

Qwaliteee

This is the state of this club in a nutshell. A talented lad who has been terrorising the opposition and leaving because these tight arse cunts on the board won’t budge on their own pathetic evaluation of a players worth. This is one will almost certainly come back to haunt. Fucking board. Absolute cunts.

Robert H

No one here is a fan of how our management has dealt with our contract situations of late, but giving 30k+ a week (likely what he is looking for) to a player with zero first team minutes of professional football would be insane.

Qwaliteee

For 99% of youth players that rule is common sense. But surely when you have a raw talent on your hands like this kid, then you chance your arm? It’s these decisions that can sometimes make or break a club’s future. If we have a potential world class player here, then the club will be fully aware of it. To then allow him to leave is gross negligence of the best interests of the club. What the fuck is the point of having a youth academy if you don’t invest in talent that is worth rewarding? The club has no… Read more »

RoyalT

He is a taller version of Shaun Phillips with more technique on the ball. We should keep him for another three yrs and drop some of our academic youth midfielders. We will lose laca and auba this summer need reinforcements for euros and prem season. Since we’re not making the champs league this yr our money will be tight

Kenny Ken T

Losing Balogun makes no sense at all. Auba & Laca could leave this season or next. You have your best academy striker, scoring goals & you don’t even give him a proper run out in 1st team or meet his demands before 1 year to go, but you keep David Luiz on a reduced contract and he may FAIL again. I don’t get it. Makes no sense & typical of Arsenal hierarchy at present. Clueless👎🏼

ashish mann

Just send him to genk

Brett

I’m sorry but I really think everyone is overreacting here…He is our fourth best U-21 striker (Nketiah, Martinelli, John-Jules) and apparently Brentford thought they are the type of club that could purchase him…
 
Move him on, get some cash, have a buy-back or sell-on clause, and get on with players who can actually make the bench…