Arsenal insider and reporter for The Athletic, David Ornstein included an interesting note for Gunners fans in his latest article. He claims that Folarin Balogun, Arsenal U23s forward, is set to leave the club this summer after contract discussions broke down, with a lack of time with the first team this year as a key factor. However, looking at recent seasons for academy prospects, the forward depth chart, and even social media - there may be a different story.
Balogun has been with the Arsenal academy for years and is one of the club’s most promising prospects. Folarin has played 70 matches for the Arsenal U18s and 23s, scoring an amazing 50 goals and tallying 12 assists during that stretch. Thus it’s no wonder he was invited on the US preseason tour last summer and why many fans are excited about his potential in the future.
This past January, Brentford wanted to purchase Balogun, a clear example that clubs see him as someone who can start matches at the senior level. He would have no shortage of suitors both in England and abroad if he were to leave this summer. But there is a case against an exit:
1 - A recent history of success for Arsenal academy players
Ornstein claims one of the reasons a new contract hasn’t been signed yet is due to Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta not giving Folarin chances with the first team, while playing other academy products. But let’s take a closer look at the details here and the young players he mentions:
Ainsley Maitland-Niles - 22 and been with the senior team for two seasons now
Joe Willock - 20, began getting a few matches last year, and really broke through this season
Eddie Nketiah - 21, has averaged 10 matches for the senior squad each of the past three years, and Arteta clearly values him
Reiss Nelson - 20, got a full loan to the Bundesliga, and has been given 18 appearances this season
Bukayo Saka - 18, a shining breakthrough this season playing both left winger and left back in over 30 matches already this campaign.