Folarin Balogun’s name has been on the lips of many Arsenal fans over the past few days.
The young striker, whose contract ends at the end of this season, has been the subject of many conflicting reports regarding his future.
On Thursday, The Athletic‘s David Ornstein and James McNicholas reported that Balogun had agreed a pre-contract agreement with an undisclosed foreign side. Later that day, both Fabrizio Romano and football.london‘s Chris Wheatley said that the Hale End product was open to extending his stay with the club.
While no solid evidence has been provided from either side, the rumours were enough to send Arsenal Twitter into a frenzy. Many people were livid that the club had decided to let go of Balogun whilst keeping Eddie Nketiah on the books.
While Balogun is highly rated within Arsenal’s youth set-up, his loss is not the end of the world. Despite this, there have been Arsenal fans who have said the club should bend over backwards for Balogun. Some people have even debated whether or not the club should give him £100,000 a week.
£100,000 for someone who hasn’t started a game is laughable, and while this is indicative of only a very small minority, it shows where some Arsenal supporters are at.
Many Arsenal fans have compared the situation Balogun is in to the Serge Gnabry fiasco. Arsenal let go of the German in 2016, with Gnabry joining Werder Bremen.
Bayern Munich snapped him up a year later, and after a few more seasons of development – including a loan to Hoffenheim – Gnabry has evolved into one of Europe’s best wingers. The decision to let him go has been one that has haunted Arsenal ever since.
While Balogun is a very talented prospect and will turn into a great player in the future, losing him isn’t the end of the world. It’s not like he’s Arsenal’s only talented youth player.
Right now, Hale End is brimming with talent. They aren’t light in the forward line, either. Both Nikolaj Moller and Tyreece John-Jules are excellent, up-and-coming strikers.
Currently, Arsenal have five strikers under the age of 23 on their books. Gabriel Martinelli is set to be Arsenal’s next leading frontman, as Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang approach the tail end of their respective careers.
John-Jules has impressed on loan at League One side Doncaster and is rated highly by Arsenal supporters. Moller, an arrival from Malmo during the summer window, is also held in high regard amongst Arsenal youth circles.
One figure who has been much maligned within the Arsenal fanbase is Eddie Nketiah. The leading scorer for the England Under-21s, Nketiah is seen as not good enough by many Arsenal fans.
People feel Nketiah is taking minutes that would otherwise be beneficiary to Balogun’s development. The truth is, while Nketiah needs to improve on some aspects of his game, the abuse he has been copping on Twitter is unwarranted.
He offers something completely different to what the rest of Arsenal’s strikers offer. Attacking a young striker who will improve in the coming years is laughable. Just because he’s going through a blip, it doesn’t mean Balogun is better than Nketiah by value of existing.
On top of that, part of Balogun’s demands have been out of place. He seems to be keen on leaving the club due to a lack of opportunities.
This decision shows a lack of patience on Balogun’s part. If he waited, that game time he was looking for would have most definitely have come.
Both Balogun and his agent’s demands seem out of place. Game time would have eventually come. The jump from under-23 football to first team football is a very high one, meaning Balogun would need time to develop, most likely with a loan.
While Balogun is undoubtedly a hot prospect, losing him isn’t the end of the world. Arsenal will find other people to replace him, most likely internally.
If Balogun does leave, it will be a loss, but the club will recover. However, the furore regarding him needs to die down.