‘This young boy is fire’ – Everything you need to know about Folarin Balogun
Arsenal’s academy has produced some incredible players over the years and Folarin Balogun is the latest talent from their conveyor belt.
Balogun is considered one of the brightest prospects at Arsenal, but he is yet to commit his future to the club and his current deal expires at the end of the season.
The 19-year-old is a prolific goalscorer at youth level, and we’ve brought you the lowdown on the talented prospect.
Who is he?
Born in New York in July 2001, Balogun moved to England at the age of two and his family settled in London.
After playing for Sunday League side Aldersbrook, he had a trial period with Tottenham but eventually decided to join Arsenal when he was 10 years old.
The teenager scored 28 goals in 28 matches across all youth competitions last season as the Gunners won the Under-18s Premier League title.
He was promoted to the Under-23 side in 2019-20 but that hasn’t slowed him down, scoring 10 goals and registering four assists in 15 appearances in Premier League 2.
Arsenal reportedly rejected a £5million offer from Brentford for the forward in January 2020, while he has also attracted interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs.
The 19-year-old had to wait patiently for a chance in the first team before making his senior debut as a second-half substitute in their 3-0 Europa League win over Dundalk.
He has represented both England and USA at under-18 level and is also eligible to play for Nigeria on the international stage.
Another game, another goal 🔥
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) February 18, 2020
Where does he play?
Balogun is an instinctive striker and clinical finisher with either foot, consistently finding the bottom corners with power and precision.
He has also displayed quick feet, blistering pace and excellent movement to run in behind defences.
But Arsenal are spoilt for choice in the striker department with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli all ahead of Balogun in the pecking order.
What he said
– “I am the sort of striker that likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs behind them, similar to the way that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang plays,” Balogun told the official Arsenal website in March 2019.
“I’ve trained a few times with the first team and I feel that I’ve benefited from being involved with them, especially when playing against experienced defenders, which forces you to find different ways of getting in on goal as what works at lower levels does not always work against them.”
– “It feels great,’ Balogun said after making his debut. “It’s a moment I have been waiting for for a little while so to finally get it feels great. I can only thanks Mikel ad the staff for this opportunity and I look forward to doing it more often.
“It’s been tough, I’ve been at a few other clubs doing trials and stuff like that but I’ve been working my way through the academy and I think as time has gone on I’ve become a better player.
“I think that’s shown in my performances and I think it’s good now to get the recognition that my performances deserve. There were loads of emotions really. I knew that this was the moment I’d been waiting for but at the same time I knew there was a job that needed to be done. So I just tried to come on, make runs, be a nuisance and just help the team.”
What they’ve said
– “This young boy is fire,” Aubameyang tweeted in March 2019.
– “Flo Balogun is like a young Eddie Nketiah up front because he gets into good positions and always scores goals,” Reiss Nelson told the official Arsenal website in March 2018.
– “I know most of the Arsenal players and this is a very talented player to have in any team,” Nigeria’s Under-20 head coach Paul Aigbogun told BBC Sport in March 2019.
– “He’s a player that I really like,’ Mikel Arteta said in October 2020. “Obviously I’ve got this situation and I believe it’s later than what I would like because I wasn’t here when everything started to develop but yes, he’s a player that I would like to give chances to.
“That’s why he was in the squad today and I showed him that yes, we count on him and we believe in him and if he wants, he’s going to have a future in the club.”