Like a salmon swimming upstream, Folarin Balogun has chosen to go against the flow, opting to push his way out of the club that so many others are just dying to join. With Martinelli, Ramsdale, Saliba, and Saka renewing contracts, with Havertz, Timber, and now Rice joining, it would seem that all of the momentum is in Arsenal’s favour. Somehow, however, Balogun sees his future elsewhere. Given his attitude and the fact that we may just have a bidding war on our hands, it seems like it’s time to cash out.
We’ve been down this road before. To his credit, Balogun wants to lead the line, but that’s not going to happen at the Arsenal, not with Gabriel Jesus in the squad. This US tour is meant to give Balogun a chance at showing what he’s capable of against the likes of Man U and Barcelona, even if these are merely preseason friendlies. Whatever the stakes over the next week or so, Balogun’s mind seems to be anywhere else, Speaking ahead of the trip, here’s what he had to say:
“I think with me coming back it’s not really much of a situation where I think I can need to try extra hard to prove soemthing [sic], I think it’s a decision that’s not really with me. Whatever happens I’m cool with it.”
Those hardly seem like the words of a player who wants to fight for a spot here. Instead, those sound like the words of player who (a) doesn’t see any value in fighting for a spot or (b) already has one foot out the door. Going just one step further, it does start to sound like the lad has had his pillow fluffed just a few too many times and, as a result, has been dreaming of replicating his Ligue 1 form in the Prem.
They’ve apparently made a bid of some £40m, which is almost enough to inspire a spit-take, but I’m a lazy, lazy man. If Inter are serious about signing Balogun, I’d suggest they look at osmething closer to £50m…with a buy-back clause…and a sell-on fee. He’s full of potential, and Inter are sitting on £45m of pure cheddar, having sold André Onana to Man U after getting him on a free transfer just one year ago. In other words, they’re flush.
Not convinced? Hm. There are reports of interest in Balogun from none other than West Ham, Crystal Palace, and Brighton. Looks like a bidding war in the making. Each of these clubs has pressing needs up top, and Balogun could very well be the player to make a difference. I don’t wish any ill will on the lad, but I would hate to see him join another Prem club and lay waste to opposing defenses. In an ideal world, those three drive Inter to meet our demands (wouldn’t that be just a little too ironic for West Ham and Brighton to do us a favor?), resulting in Balogun plying his trade in Italy rather than in England? I’m all for it.
Taking a longer view, this is the kind of situation that Arsène might have mismanaged, rewarding the player for his want-away ambitions with a plum deal. Arteta seems to be made of sterner stuff, saying that “we will see what happens” regarding Balogun’s future with the club. Ruthless? Perhaps. Ambitious? More certainly so. Over the next few weeks, tIme will tell whether Balogun can prove his worth, whether that refers to his contributions to this squad or to his suitors.