Arsenal could be about to lose their own Harry Kane this summer. Mikel Arteta looks prepared to sell Folarin Balogun despite his undoubted goalscoring potential.
Like Kane at Tottenham, Balogun came through the ranks at Arsenal having joined as a youngster. He was prolific for the Gunners’ youth sides before becoming a first-team player.
Arsenal supporters who follow the academy teams were excited by Balogun’s potential and pushed for him to sign a new contract in 2021. He is now halfway through that four-year deal but has made just four appearances since under Arteta.
Just as many young strikers do, Balogun has had to find his feet out on loan. A six-month spell at Middlesbrough didn’t go quite to plan as he was mostly played out wide.
But last season proved the potential he does have. Balogun scored 22 goals in all competitions at French side Reims, his first full season as a first-team regular.
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Moving to a foreign country is daunting for an English player of that age and lack of experience. But Balogun grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Kane had his loan spells early in his Tottenham career, spending time at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester. He was never as prolific as Balogun was at Reims but they helped aid his development into becoming the striker he is today.
It would be a bold claim to say Balogun could emulate anywhere near Kane’s career. But there is something special about a striker coming through the academy at a top club and succeeding.
But Arsenal fans may not see Balogun be given that opportunity. He is not prepared to play second, or even third, fiddle next season.
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On Sunday, he stated in no uncertain terms that he would not be seeking another loan move. He said: “What I can say is that I definitely won’t go on loan again.
“I’m not sure on the discussions that are going to take place, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But I’m just committed to now, I try to stay present.”
Clubs across Europe are interested in signing Balogun and it looks increasingly likely that he will be moving on. He would love to return to Arsenal as a starter and build a career in north London.
But it is widely reported that Arteta will not stand in his way if he demands a move. Arteta, in his own ruthless way, clearly does not view Balogun as ready to come straight into his team in August.
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