Arsenal have turned down an approach from Sheffield United to buy 19-year old striker Folarin Balogun, according to multiple reports and confirmed by the Midlands club. The Blades reportedly offered £3M, but Arsenal want up to 5x as much for the prospect. The Hale End product is in the final year of his contract in North London and has indicated that he doesn’t see his future at Arsenal because of the logjam of strikers ahead of him, including fellow 19-year old Tyreece John-Jules.
If Arsenal convince him there is a path to first team playing time, his attitude might change (my words, not his). Alexandre Lacazette has been linked with moves away from the Emirates this window. Mikel Arteta seems to like Eddie Nketiah, but he’s not a jaw-dropping, “oh my goodness I’m never going to beat this guy out” type of player. John-Jules is on-loan this season at Doncaster Rovers In League One. While he is still quite young, has room to develop, and has a high ceiling, I question whether a player heading to the third tier will ever be good enough to be a starter at Arsenal.
Basically, if you remove one striker from the equation, the route to the first team looks quite doable for anybody.
And at the risk of sounding way too much like ‘yer da, I don’t love the attitude — you’d like to see players fight for their place. Of course, that’s easy to say from the outside looking in. It’s not my career on the line. We aren’t party to the behind-the-scenes conversations and the inside workings of the club, so his desire for a move could be completely reasonable and justified.
But even if Balogun really does have his heart set on a move away from the Emirates to find playing time right now, the best move for Arsenal might be to hang onto him. He’s 19. As far as I know, none of us were professional footballers and so our mindset was different, but think back to when you were that age. How firmly did you hold to your decisions? Who is to say that in 3 months, or 6 months, after repeatedly hearing from Arsenal “we want you at this club,” the teenager won’t have a change of heart?
And remember, he’s a good prospect, but it isn’t like Arsenal are about to let the next Leo Messi walk out the door for free. The Gunners’ recent track record isn’t spotless (hello, Ismaël Bennacer), but for every Bennacer there are 4 or 5 guys who are sold / let go who don’t pan out. We just tend to focus on the mistakes and the worst case scenarios. It’s human nature.