Folarin Balogun has signed a new long-term contract at Arsenal, as the USMNT prospect is touted as the next big star.
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Balogun, 19, was born in New York City and raised in London, as he has played for both the USA and England at youth level. The young striker has risen through the ranks at Arsenal’s academy since joining them in 2017.
There was interest from lots of huge clubs in Balogun, as his previous contract ran out this summer, but he has committed his future to the Gunners and that seems like a very smart move.
He is keen to follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, two Arsenal academy graduates who have become regular starters for Mikel Arteta this season.
“Bukayo and Emile have shown me that if you just stick at something for long enough, eventually it will pay off,” Balogun told Arsenal’s website. “I take huge inspiration from them. I thought both of them seemed ready when they were called up each and every time. I thought they definitely prepared, not just physically but also mentally, for the challenges. I think that’s something I’ve learned from them.
“Every time I come over, all the lads are friendly but in particular I would say the strikers’ union [have helped me most]. Laca, Auba, Eddie, we all talk, we all get along and laugh. They’re just continuously trying to give me little tips here and there, things to help me improve my game. That’s good to see.”
What can Balogun achieve in the future?
Mikel Arteta has long been a huge fan of Balogun, so too have Arsenal’s fans who want him to get more minutes, and he has scored twice in six appearances for the first team this season and has grabbed minutes in the Europa League.
It is tough to have Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ahead of you in the pecking order, but it seems likely that Lacazette and Nketiah could move on as soon as this summer and that will give Balogun a chance to impress.
Arteta is clearly a big fan of him already.
“We have been extremely impressed with Flo this season. He has continually shown his natural ability in many training sessions with us and we have been equally impressed with his early integration into the first team squad on matchdays,” Arteta said. “He has given us glimpses with the performances and of course with his two goals already for the first team. The hard work starts here for Flo and we are all looking forward to supporting and working with him in the years to come.”
Technical director Edu added: “It’s great that Flo will continue to be with us. He is a very promising young talent and has already shown so much quality in his performances.”
Balogun is a poacher and a natural goalscorer and coming through the ranks at Arsenal with Smith Rowe and Saka will help him integrate into the first team easily.
Arteta and Arsenal have put faith in youngsters and that is clearly their plan for next season and beyond. Balogun will be a big part of Arsenal, and hopefully the USMNT’s, future.