Premier League • England

Arsenal youngster sends Arteta clear message over ‘goalscorer’ who could leave this summer

Ben Stewart
Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta reacts after Brighton's Julio Enciso scored his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion at Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, May 14, 2023

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal are heading in the right direction under Mikel Arteta, but the Spanish manager faces some big decisions ahead of the summer transfer window.

One of Arteta’s biggest decisions relates to the future of Folarin Balogun. The 21-year-old has been smashing it while out on loan with Reims this season.

In Ligue 1, the forward has scored 20 goals and has been receiving plenty of plaudits. Impressively so, he has averaged a goal every 141 minutes with the French club.

Due to his prolific form, plenty of clubs from around Europe are considering moving for him this summer. The latest club to register an interest have been AC Milan.

With the Italian club keen to secure a long-term replacement for Olivier Giroud, the Arsenal youngster has popped up on their radar.

Arteta must make the final call on whether to cash in on Balogun now or integrate him into the squad next season.

Fellow Arsenal youngster Tyreece John-Jules has spoken about Balogun and what he thinks he can bring to this Arsenal side next season.

“He came to Arsenal when he was like 12 or 13 and he’s always been sharp as hell and skilful and whatever,” John-Jules told the Beautiful Game podcast.

“But when he got to under 18’s it was when he really started to boy it and he was scoring goals every single week,” John-Jules said.

“I have always seen it from young, he has been scoring goals. What he’s doing now is not really a surprise, it was just a matter of timing and opportunity. He’s a goalscorer.”

John-Jules clearly thinks that Balogun has something to offer to this Arsenal squad next season, but the final call with rest on Arteta’s shoulders.

Not an easy decision

The problem Arsenal will have is that Balogun’s valuation is at an all-time high right now. If Arteta does decide to keep him around next year and he doesn’t play much, his value will take a substantial hit.

Conversely, Balogun could go on to better his output from this season and Arsenal might regret letting him leave in the first place.

Arteta does have a few more options to consider with the youngster. Another loan move could be on the cards, after all it took William Saliba three separate loan spells until he got his chance under Arteta.

The Gunners are also expected to be in the market for another forward, which could then push Balogun further down the pecking order.

However, Arsenal’s biggest priority this season remains to be their midfield. If they do decide to go all out for Declan Rice, he will demand a large chunk of their transfer budget.

Having someone like Balogun in and around the squad would ease Arsenal’s need to immediately sign a new striker.

The number nine role has been shared out this year between Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah and even Leandro Trossard on occasion.

Balogun will back his ability to make a difference in North London next season, but the final ddecision will rest with Mikel Arteta.

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