According to reports out of England, Folarin Balogun is set to sign “a new four-year contract” with Arsenal FC. The 19-year-old striker’s current deal was due to expire, as many clubs were expected to join the pursuit. Over the past year, Brentford, Sheffield United, and other “overseas” teams were interested, but multiple “seven-figure bids” were rejected. Pre-contract offers from Bayer Leverkusen and “no fewer than 15 clubs” were also turned down.
Arsenal manager Miguel Arteta previously expressed doubt as to a peaceful resolution, claiming to be “not sure” about Balogun’s agent. However, he has also gone out of his way to praise the player, referring to him as “superb.” In December, the issue was reported to be “the length of the contract,” which appears to have been resolved.
Yet to make his first Premier League appearance, Balogun has featured in the EFL Cup and Europa League. The New York City native scored two goals in the continental competition, in group play matches against Molde and Dundalk FC. A potential selling point for staying is current attackers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang “will be on the wrong side of 30” and in the final years of their respective contracts, potentially opening up the opportunity for increased playing time.
Folarin Balogun looked set to leave Arsenal next summer after failed contract talks.— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) November 26, 2020
But the club reopened talks, and Mikel Arteta wants 19-year-old to stay.
30 seconds after coming on against Molde he scored his first senior goal for the Gunners with his first touch ❤️ pic.twitter.com/m4ujcVlYHR
Balogun is eligible to represent the United States, England, and Nigeria, the latter through his parents. After playing with the Three Lions at the UEFA Under-17 Championship, he accepted an invitation to the U.S. under-18 team at the 2018 Václav Ježek Youth Tournament, scoring two goals en route to the title. Subsequent inclusion with the England U-18 and U-20 squads offer clues to his eventual commitment, although all three countries remain an option.
This is a curious decision by the attacker, choosing to continue his Arsenal tenure despite a paucity of playing time. However, he’s been at the club since 2008, joining the academy at eight years old. If a breakthrough does not follow, there will still be a long line of clubs hoping to sign him. Only time will tell if that future also includes suiting up for the United States, as the careers of a young player can have many twists and turns.
Is the contract extension a good move for Balogun? Let us know in the comment section.