Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ambitious, commited and brave – Arteta praises “special” Balogun

Mikel Arteta believes Folarin Balogun has “something special” and is delighted to see the young striker tearing things up in Ligue 1. 

Despite interest from a host of clubs in England, the 21-year-old, egged on by Nicolas Pepe and Alex Lacazette, made the decision to join French side Reims on loan in the summer. Building on a six-month spell at Middlesbrough, his main aim was regular game time and a loose ambition to break the 10-goal mark. 

Heading into the World Cup hiatus he had eight to his name but he’s accelerated in recent weeks, adding a further six, to lead the scoring charts ahead of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. 

Watching from afar, Arteta has been impressed with the manner in which his young charge has seized his opportunity. 

“I’m so happy for him,” said the Spaniard. “He’s a boy that has a really clear idea of what he wants to do with his career. He’s really ambitious, really committed and really brave.

“We discussed a lot before he made that move whether it was the right place to go and the other choices he had. He was so convinced. I’m really happy for him because he deserves what he’s getting.

“When you look at the numbers and what he is doing, it’s just incredible. It’s very rare to see that. But he’s got something special, that’s why we decided to give him a long-term contract and have faith in him and give him the long period that he needs now, because the loan he is having now is really different to the one he had before at Middlesbrough.

“He had some scars from that period. There were moments when he suffered, moments when he played, and when he didn’t. Moments when he played in what he believes is not his best position. He threw all those excuses out and went into the next experience.

“He put that behind him, but using exactly what worked for him, what didn’t work, looked in the mirror and moved to the next one. He’s done that really, really well.”

It remains to be seen what the future holds for the England under-21 international but having him tied down to a long-term contract means the cards are very much in Arsenal’s hands for once.

“The plan is now he finishes his loan period, we assess the situation, where he is, where we are,” said Arteta. “Then we sit down and plan the next chapter in his career.”

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iGooner

Will be interesting to see how Arteta plans to integrate him, Eddie and Jesus in the team. Regardless, I’m so proud of our Hale End and long may we keep churning out future stars.

BukayoToTheFuture

Amen to that. A great problem to have.

arseCLE

Long my we continue to have the problem of how to integrate great players!

Heavenly Chapecoense

Flo is more talented than Eddie but Arteta has to show full support to Eddie at the present time. He cannot say, he sees Flo as a starting XI in the future.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

We will need 3 high performing central strikers in the CL and other competitions next year. If he’s up to the level I expect him to be integrated. He appears up to the level.

Anon

More competition for that spot presumably

Tapps

In my honest opinion, the greatest thing we can take from Arteta’s reign is the constant search for the right mentality. “Here you are, I’m chucking you in at the deep-end. Sink or swim – it’s down to you.” The fact that Flo has chosen to fight – to swim – gives me great confidence in his future at Arsenal. Keep tearing it up, Flo, and you’ll be an Arsenal (and world) great for many years.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Mentality is what separates the professional players. They are all good, they are professionals, they had the mentality to get this far but it’s the really smart players, who are brave and are willing to do what it takes to be champion that Arteta looks for in his players.

Johnny 4 Hats

I’ve been thinking loads about this and I think the best move here is to give Balogun (provided he’s up for it) a season at a really good side. I’m thinking a Milan or a Dortmund. I think the interest would be there. No option. No obligation. Just the player for a season. The thing that worries me is him coming back and tanking his value and momentum by playing 10 mins every other game. What a great problem to have. Just when we don’t need a striker, an excellent one is spawned. Good for you Flo! Keep banging them… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

Having said that, if someone comes in and offers us £40m for Eddie, I’d have a decision to make. That’s basically free money as we don’t need to find a replacement.

Would I be more hesitant if we get a £40m offer for Balogun? I just might. I think Eddie has everything to be a top premier league striker. But from the moment Flo jogged onto the pitch against Molde (and scored after 37 seconds), I felt I was looking at a player with the X factor.

John

If either Eddie or Balogun played for Brighton, any club offering them £40 million would be told in no uncertain terms that their offer was so insulting it bordered on antisocial behaviour. Our lads are proven goalscorers in top European leagues. £40m? Jao Felix cost half of that for a five month loan!

Boy Bastin

Possibly, but it would be interesting to see what we were actually offered should either, say, Eddie or Balogun be put up for sale. I certainly don’t know, nobody does, because it’s not happened. When push comes to shove, any player is “only” worth what another club will pay at a particular time.

Johnny 4 Hats

Yeah but Chelsea.

We can’t value our players on their recklessness.

Were we to sell Eddie or Flo, it would be to a smaller club. And no club smaller than Arsenal has +£50m to spend on one player.

ChickPEA

Eddie is having a great season in the PL, will be 24 at the end the current season, and has the English tax, so he should definitely raise more than £40m. I’d say anything under £60m is laughable. But I do agree that the best scenario anyway would be to send Flo on loan again next season in a much more competitive league, see how he fares, give Eddie another season in the PL meanwhile, and then decide which one we sell and which we keep. I have a feeling Flo is the one we should stick to, as his… Read more »

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Surprised at all the thumbs down, I think that’s a fair assessment

A Different George

Yeah, I think a lot of supporters just hate the idea of selling a talented young player whether or not that makes sense. My only disagreement with Johnny is over the amount: Balogun has already proven, in a better competition than Holland, that he is as good as Antony (okay, as good as Antony was supposed to be). We won’t receive Mudryk-level offers (because, apparently, Mudryk is the kind of talent that goes way beyond “promising”), but I think £40m is some £20m or even £30 lower than we should expect.

TechGuyNiran

Completely agree with you…Balogun is a 21yr old on a long term contract…done it already against a big team like PSG…topping the scoring chart where you have top talents…60m+ or walk away….would really love to know who other fans rate better…Eddie/Balogun…I personally think Balogun’s all round game and finishing is on a different level to Eddie’s…Eddie is the better poacher though…but for speed and skill Balogun beats Eddie in my assessment

Johnny 4 Hats

I think it’s real easy to forget that, bar a few super rich premier league clubs, everyone is poor as fuck.

Johnny 4 Hats

I’m not well liked on here.

And it’s a fair assessment, I am a bit of a tool.

Haha! Vote that down.

I win!

In the most meaningless way possible.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

I like you. You do have some “hot” takes but who doesn’t. Feck em.

Teryima Adi

He would come back great as Saliba.

Boy Bastin

All true, but the central question remains: what do we do with him? Assuming we retain both Jesus (very likely) and Eddie (likely) where and how would Balogun fit in and how much game time could he expect? I wouldn’t have thought that he’ll be interested in returning only to play a minor role and yet another loan is probably out of the question. Also, how would his exceptional form in the (weaker) French league translate to the PL if he did come back? It worked for Saliba of course, but no two players are alike and these two play… Read more »

Vonnie

He stays.

Boy Bastin

Well, that’s your opinion but how are we going to fit in Jesus, Eddie and Balogun and give them all satisfactory game time without disrupting the team? That’s the question that Arteta and co. will have to answer come the Summer break.

Vonnie

70 games a season, five subs, we could even play two strikers at times, just because the s*n says we should sell him doesn’t make it so. I’m sick of all this “disrupting the team” nonsense, you don’t win major trophies without real depth in the squad.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Exactly. Squad depth is critical to play and succeed in the CL. We need six forwards, Jesus, Eddie, Balogun, Saka, Martinelli, Trossard. ESR likely to take Xhaka role next season, with MO, Viera, Partey and a new guy or two. Flo and Jesus both can play wide so there are options for the manager.

Grimmjow

If Eddie keeps producing and Jesus returns to goal-scoring form, he’s unlikely to get much game time next season.
Maybe sell for 50-60 million with a buy-back, first refusal clause to a non-PL rival.
I wouldn’t want to come be a bench player if I were in his shoes, and as much as I would love for him to stay, his career development should come first

Johan

In a way, the fact that Balogun is doing so well becomes an argument to sell him (and to be clear, I’m not saying we should), as you want to sell a player when their stock is high. If he had only scored half of those goals, we’d be looking at him as a gem that still needs further polishing. Now we’ve got a bit of a Joe Willock situation. Where this one seems different though is that Joe never seemed like an Arteta-style player, and Balogun does (or we don’t yet know as he hasn’t had many opportunities). If… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

In the last 25 years, Nketiah and Flo are the only PL level CF developed in our academy. Not even a good business selling Flo and spending 80M to buy another CF in a couple of years. Jesus is a great second striker in a 4-4-2 system and not a prolific scorer. Jesus is an improved Lacazette.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Keep all three, they will all get minutes. Eddie’s lack on flexibility on the forward line will likely mean he receives the least. We really have to stop thinking we only need two players who can play centrally. We need three and having two of them to also be able to play put wide allows it to happen. We need 16 to 18 we can rotate without a drop off in quality to win the league and CL.

Boy Bastin

Yes, that’s the dilemma that Arteta will have to address in a few months. A transfer isn’t out of the question as an option, but there are others. Clearly he won’t want to stay and warm the bench most of the time, will he.

Qwaliteee

Next season I would start Flo in the League Cup and FA Cup and put him on the bench in the Premiership to come on if/when a game has been more or less won. Our experience from this season alone has confirmed that in order to challenge successfully on four fronts we really do squad depth – and having three great strikers will allow us to do that. Flo will be the perfect foil and/or back up to Jesus and Eddie, allowing Arteta the luxury of being able to rotate when they’re all fit and have strength in numbers if… Read more »

Boy Bastin

I’m not sure he’d go for that, although it would obviously be a good solution for the club.

I suspect he’ll want a lot more “proper” game time – as he’s used to currently in France. Runs (possibly short) in domestic cups and/or an almost permanent substitute role in the PL probably won’t cut it. That said, we’ll have to wait and see what solution Arteta comes up with in the Summer – and whether Balogun is happy with it.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

You have no idea what Balogun would or would not be happy with, and arguments based on what you are imagining other people thinking are kind of absurd.

Blackpool Albert

As a old rock n rolla, the possibility of a front line led by Flo & Eddie is intoxicating.

Collibosher

… with the crowd singing “I can’t see me loving nobody but you…”

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Spot on.

Doghouse

Great we had the foresight to nail Folarin to our colours, great also for his impressive goals scored in Ligue 1 with a relatively small club, similar to Eddie in directness and style of play and 2 years younger the potential to be a top player is there, another season on loan to German/Spanish league would be a good option for him to develop like we did with Saliba.

Mikels Arteta

Contract expires in 2025
Either an extension or sale at the end of the current season

Rafer Austin

Jesus always has injury problems in an average season, and having Balogun back would ensure we are not scrambling for panic buying strikers in 5he future. He is certainly for keeps

Kiwamya

Jesus cost £45m, I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect anyone except for Chelsea to be paying £60+ for Flo.

Personally I think we will need 3 forwards next year- injuries/ suspensions, rotation for Champions League & Jesus can be the back up to Saka on the right.

Sign Flo to a longer deal now and If we struggle to give them all enough game time, re-asses at the end of the season.

Thenge

Who needs Halaand when we’ve got Hale End?

Nairobi

“Then we sit down and plan the next chapter in his career…” What a man! What a manager! Its been a while since we had this confidence at the top… Kudos to Arteta!!

Sandi

Flo has done well. Think the route to sent him out again to another loan in a bigger competitive league like the Bundesliga or Serie A where he would be guaranteed game time that would be massive progress. Don’t sell him, lest we repeat a “Sergie Gnabry scenario”

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