Misguided, immature, lacking respect are just 3 things that came to mind after Folarin Balogun posted up a video of one of his goals for the U23s as Arsenal were struggling to break down Southampton in the FA Cup.
Balogun is yet to sign a new deal with Arsenal and will be free to leave in the summer. Already his representatives can begin negoatiating with foreign clubs.
Reports are that Balogun’s reluctance to sign are due to a concern about playing time. Other reports say he wants pay parity to the likes of Bukayo Saka.The reality is, Balogun is a 19-year-old talented young footballer who is 5th choice striker at Arsenal and not yet done anything to prove that he can perform at Saka’s level.
If Balogun wants to play, if he wants to earn the big bucks at Arsenal, then he should sign the deal on the table. He should trust the coaches and management at Arsenal to guide his career rather than his agents.
Sign the new deal now, go out on loan for the rest of the season. Score a bucketfull of a goals.
Come the summer, his performances on loan could lead to Arsenal cashing in on Eddie Nketiah. It is likely Alexandre Lacazette will also leave as he will have just one year left on his contract.
That will see Arsenal’s striker options be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun.
Balogun would be 3rd choice and be getting plenty of game time at 20-years-old. The task of both him and Martinelli would then be to progress enough over the next 2 seasons to show that they would be worthy of replacing Aubameyang.
This time next year, if he is putting in some good performances nd becoming a regular in the starting XI, then knock on Edu’s door again. Ask for a payrise.
The path for Balogun is clear. Everyone can see it. But he is either impatient or greedy. Neither trait is good to have for a young footballer making his way.
It is interesting to note that many of those on social media calling for Balogun to start, for Arsenal to “pay him what he wants” also demand William Saliba play week in week and. They are also those fans that have spent 8 months complaining about the treatment of Mesut Ozil. And they all have #ArtetaOut in their Twitter bio’s.
Their rating of Balogun (and Saliba) is not based on seeing him play week in week out for the U23s, following his career since he was 14. It seems to be a simple case of:
We hate Arteta for the way he treated Ozil so are going to hype up any young player he is not playing.
This has led to Balogun gaining a lot of “fan boys” despite being 19 andnot yet having started a game.
These fans are demanding him to start based on goals against Molde and Dundalk.
Let’s return to Eddie Nketiah for a bit.
Nketiah has received a lot of abuse online from these so called “fans” due to being given the chnce.
Eddie deserves his chance this season.
Everything Balogun is currently doing – scoring goals at youth level and nicking a couple against inferior opposition in Europe – Nketiah has also done.
Eddie also went to Leeds on loan and has waited patiently.
You feel those abusing Nketiah and hyping Balogun would be doing it the other way if Arteta had sold the senior man in the summer and promoted Balogun.
If Arsenal had have given Balogun a big contract, they would probably be criticising the club for giving a youngster so much money without doing much.
These fans view things in a biased manner. They will contradict themselves.
What Balogun needs to do is stay away from social media. Ignore those fans hyping him up. He is not yet a Nicolas Anelka or Thierry Henry. At the same age as Saka, he is levels below.
You feel the social media echo chamber is influencing him though.
Fans tweeting him every day telling him how great he is. That he should be starting ahead of Nketiah. That he is right to demand to play before signing a new deal.
What he does not realise is this menatality is not the mentality of someone Arteta will want to keep.
He ends up coming across as devisive, willing to trample over a colleague for a promotion.
An employee who thinks he is better than senior employees, despite having never proven anything. It does not make for a good workplace.
what people (and Balogun) fail to recognise is that it is not just Nketiah ahead of him,
Arsenal have two senior strikers in Aubameyang and Lacazette. Both are proven goal scorers.
Even if Eddie left tomorrow, Balogun would struggle to get much game time – Nketiah has played just 319 Premier League minutes.
And it is not just Nketiah who is ahead of Balogun; there is also Gabriel Martinelli.
Martinelli is just 3 weeks older than Balogun and is levels ahead.
It is only injury that has limited the Brazilian’s game time this season. And there is a school of thought that had he not picked up that injury, Arsenal would have sold Lacazette last summer with Martinelli providing cover for Aubameyang.
Does anyone out there think that Balogun is better than Martinelli?
So even if Nketiah left, Balogun would still not be getting that game time as it would be going to a fit-again Martinelli.
We have seen talented young strikers at Arsenal before – Benik Afobe and Chuba Akpom in recent years. Balogun is not doing any more than these two at youth level. Neither made it at Arsenal.
Why should Arsenal give Balogun game time when he has not signed a new contract?
Those that say they stand by Balogun refusing to sign a new deal until he plays have got it the wrong way round.
A young player should prove his loyalty to a club, not the other way round.
It is the equivalent of an employee handing in his notice and then demanding he be promoted ahead of colleagues who deserve it more.
Any manager would tell that employee where to go. That they are not ready for the promotion but give it a year or 18 months and they would be ready. That he should not be holding the company to ransom by demanding a promotion otherwise he will quit.
If Balogun wants the opportunites currently being given to Nketiah, then he should sign a new contract.
He can not expect to be given that chance when he could leave in 6 months.
And ultimately, the argument should not be between Nketiah and Balogun.
With everyone fit, they are 4th and 5th choice striker.
Martinelli is the future.