According to the Athletic, Arsenal have re-opened contract talks with teenager Folarin Balogun after original discussions had stalled during the summer.
The 19 year-old is out of contract at the end of the season, with many Premier League and Bundesliga clubs desperate for his signature.
However a concern for Balogun, which seems to be one of the main reasons why a contract hasn’t been signed yet, is his pathway into the first team, with young strikers Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli both ahead of him in the Arsenal pecking order.
On the other hand, the teenager will be encouraged by making his Arsenal debut in the Gunners’ 4-0 victory against Irish side Dundalk, with manager Mikel Arteta keen to show him that a route into the first team is possible.
The Athletic reported during Arsenal’s first set of talks with the 19 year-old in June that it looked almost certain the youngster would be leaving, however after rejecting a number of bids, including from Sheffield United, it seemed the Gunners would risk losing him on a free in the hope of getting him to sign an extension.
Balogun has been with Arsenal since the age of 10, after rejecting an offer from rivals Tottenham Hotspur, despite spending a period on loan with the London club, and the American-born forward has been a goal scoring machine for the Gunners’ academy sides, no matter the age group.
In his first league season for the U18s, Balogun recorded nine goals and three assists in 14 games, whilst also scoring his first goal in the U23s as a 16 year-old, however the following season is when the forward exploded onto the scene.
During the U18s 2018/19 league campaign, Balogun scored an astounding 25 goals in just 19 games, helping the club to win it’s first league title in nine years.
As a result of his excellent performances, the England youth international was fully promoted to the U23 side, where he finished the season as the joint top highest scoring teenager in the league, with 10 goals in 15 games.
Like any youth player, the next big challenge for Balogun is to be able to bring the quality that he’s shown in the academy games into the first team against higher quality opposition, whilst also adapting to the huge difference in physicality and intensity.
Balogun is a physical player, so hopefully that step up won’t be too big of a hindrance for him, however finding space and getting shots off in and around the box is much tougher than in academy football.
If Balogun manages to replicate his goal scoring form in the senior team, whilst also deciding to stay of course, then he will undoubtedly be a great addition to Mikel Arteta’s squad. Even though he has made just one sub appearance for the first team, there’s a reason his manager is desperate to keep him.
*all stats provided by Transfermarkt.