Folarin Balogun is expected to sign a new, long term, Arsenal contract imminently, according to The Athletic. The 19-year old striker is out of contract at the end of the year, and Arsenal were concerned he might leave on a free transfer given the interest he was attracting from around Europe. According to Fabrizio Romano, there were no fewer than 15 clubs that had approached his agents, and Balogun will turn down a pre-contract offer from Bayer Leverkusen.
The sticking point for Balogun had always been playing time — he wanted more and didn’t see a path to getting it given Arsenal’s logjam up top. So with him signing a new deal, you have to wonder what has changed at Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t going anywhere. Mikel Arteta has suggested that he sees Gabriel Martinelli as a striker, and the Brazilian has reportedly been training as one since returning from his extended injury layoff.
That leaves Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah — they could both be on their way out. Alexandre Lacazette will be in the final year of his contract next season, and although the club have reportedly been working on an extension on and off, it seems like his time at Arsenal is drawing to a close. Maybe the club will be able to get some kind of transfer fee for the French striker in the summer. I think I’d be happy with something in the 20-30M range.
Nketiah is also out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season and probably on the way out at Arsenal. For what it’s worth, he shares an agent with Balogun. The Gunners should be able to get a decent fee for Nketiah (25M feels about right) from another Premier League squad given his young age and success in both cup competitions and for the England U-21 team. It’s a bit disappointing that the club didn’t sell in January when there was demonstrated interest, but perhaps the timing and the money weren’t right.
Regardless, convincing Balogun to stay is a big deal. Arsenal cannot afford to lose prospects for free, especially at striker where they’ve got two players on the wrong side of 30 (after this season) and will soon need to restock the position depth. Balogun has looked quite good in limited action with the first team and is an absolute monster for the youth teams. He’ll do nicely to help replenish the depth chart. And if he doesn’t work out, Arsenal should still be able to sell him on given his age. Win, win. Today is a good day.