So many exciting talents have come through the Emirates Academy in a short space of time that it’s hard to keep up. Suddenly Arsenal’s team is morphing into a side peppered with promising teenagers that are bursting with exquisite skills, the most recent among them being Folarin Balogun.
Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have all burst through into the first team and there is a queue forming to join them, but one name is starting to emerge that may soon be a regular fixture, that of Folarin Balogun. The British youngster has impressed at every level and is a star in the making. Of course, the levels between under-18 and first-team football are huge but Balogun has the tools to be an unequivocal success.
He has fantastic balance and touch and even at the age of 18 years of age, he displays great close control. The young striker is immensely confident with his ability and is as capable of scoring from inside the area as he is from just outside it. He just so happens to be as comfortable with the ability of his head as he is with his feet and is able to sense a goal-scoring opportunity in the making.
I’ve seen him link up in the build-up play, take it upon himself to attack or play others in and the results are impressive. As much as Eddie Nketiah is attracting praise and applause, there’s a strong chance that Folarin Balogun will compete for the role of the first-choice striker in the future.
With all the speculation regarding the departures of Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arsenal fans should not be overly troubled or despondent, especially because they also have the sensational Gabriel Martinelli. In truth, if Aubameyang finishes his career at the Emirates, Arsenal are potentially spoilt for choice in the striker’s department and I think any suggestion that the club is interested in yet another striker is completely wide of the mark.
Watching footage of Balogun is like watching a cross between Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with just small glimpses of each in the various goals he scores. The determination, positioning and sheer love for scoring of Wright, the self assured dynamic runs and ambition of Henry and the unpredictable, predatory nature of Aubameyang in full flight.
In my opinion, Folarin Balogun has as much potential as Eddie Nketiah, if not more. He just needs a chance to show what he’s made of and what he can do. The word is that he will begin to feature gradually next season and that he is highly regarded by the coaching staff. Per Mertesacker has apparently kept a close eye on the youngster and is reporting back directly to Mikel Arteta. If you haven’t seen him, you will do it soon. It’s definitely a name worth remembering.
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