Chelsea are chasing Arsenal’s want-away forward? £50m is an “embarrassing” bid.


Stuck behind Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah has left Folarin Balogun in a bit of a dilemma. His recent decision to play for the US men’s national team instead of for England suggests that he values playing far more than he cares for watching. Of course, that loan-spell to Reims saw him net 21 goals in 27 matches. That seems like a pretty convincing case for him to be deserve a larger role here at Arsenal, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. With Chelsea sniffing around, let’s slap a price of, oh, say £72m. Maybe £88m? We know they have the money.

£50m has been reported as a likely starting point for negotiation, but only Haaland (30.6) and Robert Lewandowski (25.3) having higher xG than his 25.0 in Europe’s top five leagues. We may turn our noses up at Ligue 1’s status, but that doesn’t mean that Chelsea have to. Having managed to move Havertz, Azpiliceuta, Kante, Mendy, Mount Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek and Koulibaly, they’re apparently freed from any concerns around any FFP sanctions and are back to free-spending ways. With rumours of Lukaku being sold to Inter, they’ll be looking for someone who can lead the line and possibly even fill the back of the net.

I’m never a fan of selling to rivals, and there’s a distant-to-decent chance that Balogun could come back to London and pick up right where he left off at Reims. Still, he wants to be a nailed-on starter, and that’s not going to happen here. There’s been interest from AC Milan, Inter, Marseille, Monaco, and RB Leipzig, and if any of them is willing to match our (reported) request for a £50m fee, that seems like the best option for us. Pochettino is the kind of manager who can train up a young player, and, for as much as we might have enjoyed watching Chelsea’s chaos this past season, he’s also the kind of manager who can elevate a squad to be more than the sum of its parts.

Why not sell Nketiah instead of Balogun and let Balogun at least get closer to that starter’s role he covets? There’s no guarantee that Balogun would accept that, and we might Nketiah only to see Balogun simmer with discontent as he watches Jesus lead the line while he comes on in the 70th minute or starts League Cup matches. What’s more, Nketiah’s mentality and development suggest that he’s better-suited to the role he’s been asked to play. He doesn’t complain or agitate; he just trains and waits and, when he plays, scores a few goals. If you’ve seen the All Or Nothing documentary, you might remember a moment when Lokonga complained about a lack of playing time. Nketiah replied, “so what, my friend? You think you’re the only man not f*cking playing? Stop feeling sorry for yourself”. While not an “elite” mentality, it’s a determined one.

As for Nketiah and Balogun, one stat to consider is that Nketiah has averaged 0.44 non-penalty goals in 90 in the Prem; Balogun averaged 0.45 non-penalty goals per 90 in Ligue 1. For as glitzy as Balogun’s scoring was this past season, it is a near-perfect to match to Nketiah’s. On the other hand, there’s a case to be made for the idea that Balogun has greater potential and, perhaps, a wider range of skills. Aged 24, Nketiah feels like he’s closer to his ceiling. It’s difficult, however, to see either one getting enough playing time to explore, much less expand on, their potential unless Arteta agrees to give one or the other more time on the pitch.

It’s a tough call. Nketiah is more willing to play a reduced role here but is more-limited. Balogun, the more-intriguing talent, wants to start. Scylla and Charybdis indeed. Maybe a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush. If he opposes another loan and insists he go somewhere where he’ll start, we may end up having to sell. However, the risk of Balogun proving himself to be the better one is too great to see him end up at Chelsea unless they offer us a Mudrykian (Mudryk-esque?) fee. If Chelsea come at us with a bid, let’s play the game the way West Ham played it with us. £50m ain’t it. Double it, and we’ll think about considering it.

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10 thoughts on “Chelsea are chasing Arsenal’s want-away forward? £50m is an “embarrassing” bid.

  1. jw1

    Unless Flo can press? He doesn’t have a place in Arteta’s squad. If you’re a CF at Arsenal that’s the minimum requisite. Goals are a bonus.

    We have no idea yet– if Balogun can do what Jesus does– and that Eddie does a reasonable facsimile of.

    If– Flo can press to Mikel’s taste– he could find his place.
    Otherwise, sell him the RB Leipzig with clauses.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Well-said. I didn’t want to delve too far into the finer tactical points but you’ve done so succinctly. Nketiah’s shown that he can slot in and perform reasonably well.We need someone who is willing to play second fiddle to Jesus, without there being too much of a drop-off. If Balogun is unwilling or unable to play that particular fiddle, we should move him. I think Leipzig could be a good fit.

  2. Wambam

    I’d have the running order as Jesus, Balogun, Nketiah. As Eddie won’t complain. Jesus can’t play every match, we have 2 games a week where we can play a second string so I think plenty of games to bed Balogun in. I’d only think of selling Balo if we have a top striker coming in like an Osimhen. If not, give him a chance. Eddie, as much as I like him, doesn’t have the stature or presence to lead the line should Jesus pick up another long term injury.

    1. Eoin ó Conchobhair

      I agree and John seems to as well. It’s tough to think of something who’s better than Nketiah or Balogun but who is willing to be behind Jesus (or challenge him) Osimhein I’d assume would want to start most matches. It would be great to find someone beefier and brawnier who can throw some weight around. I don’t know if Osimhein is that play though.

  3. Nigel

    My mum and dad split up when I was 3 I lived with my mum until i was 8 then went to live with my dad. At age of 12 I was in a children’s home. Whilst in a children’s home at 14 my mum said to me if you want something to do with me you have nothing to do with your dad. I didn’t speak to her again for about 16 years… Bye Balogun….

  4. A Simple Truth

    (Jon-or maybe the above Nigel post represents the worst analogy ever)

    there’s no doubting that the Balo scenario is a bit more convoluted than it appears at first blush…clearly the kid wants playing time but there’s other issues afoot, which stem from the rather contentious circumstances surrounding his last 11th hour re-up negotiations…far too often our current duo have left things to the last minute, thereby giving the player and his camp all the leverage, like with Eddie and Nelson…only a soured relationship would justify the selling of Balo, instead of Eddie, as the former is both younger and provides us with something different up top…if we allow him to seek greener pastures, we had better get top dollar and send him abroad, so as to minimize the potential damage of just such a short-sighted maneuver…maybe if we hadn’t given the mad poacher, Eddie, a 6-figure deal, or if MA et al had not mishandled most of our young blue chippers early on, minus Saka, we wouldn’t be in such a predicament…how ironic considering how many of his most ardent supporters have vehemently, albeit mistakenly, proclaimed that the youth initiative was first and foremost on Arteta’s mind from the onset

  5. Palladio43

    I could accept dealing Party and Balogun, but only if they are sent as far as possible from the PL. The thought of facing them at least twice a year, if not more, and haunting us if they affect those outcomes is frightening. Also, even if only for a few more years in Tom’s case, but longer for Balogun, seeing Chelsea, MU, Newcastle, et al, doing much better and posing a threat, is not a scenario I relish.
    I can understand reaping as much as possible from Partey, especially given reduced pace and increased injuries, but as to the “play me or trade me” Balogun, it seems to come down to a choice of him or Eddie, which assumes one of them is the backup to Jesus. However, I would much prefer we address the issue of whether Jesus should be our prime striker and whether any decisions should be based on improving at that position. Thus, if Tom and Folarin are sold elsewhere (not to Chelsea, please!!), and the money used to better us at striker, I am fine (not Mbappe given cost and possible ego issues).

    Finally, Nigel, nothing one can say as to your history. I can only hope, and so it seems, you have moved well beyond those early years.

    1. A Simple Truth

      Palladio43—I concur with your Jesus sentiments, as I feel he might not be clinical enough to lead the line if our supposed aspirations are to be believed…that said, I’m not sure we have the financial capacity, even if we get a significant fee from Balo, to properly redress that particular positional need…we certainly don’t want to adopt the same half-measure approach we took this past winter window and then find ourselves in an even worse situation come next summer

      on a side note, it does worry me a bit that both ourselves and Pool went into the off-season with the supposed goals of revamping our respective midfields, yet we’ve brought in 1 bona fide option and they’ve brought in 2, for the same price I might add, and are now looking to get Lavia over the line…now some will suggest that Havertz represents our second midfield acquisiton, whereas I would categorize him as more of a forward with a dash of midfield nous…maybe instead of making a papering over the cracks move up top, we will opt for a midfielder with positional flexibility like Simons, thus killing two birds with one stone…Cheers

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