He hasn’t played a competitive minute yet. He hasn’t even stepped on the pitch or even made the bench since an insipid display against the MLS All-Stars back in July. That’s three pointless friendlies, one glorified friendly, and two Prem matches since we’ve seen Folarin Balogun lace up boots. Rumour has it that Chelsea are eager to sign him. Whether that eagerness signals awareness of an actual need or the antics of a meth-addled addict desperate for his next score is anyone’s guess. At this point, I say, let’s do it. Sell ’em.
We’ve been down this road altogether too many times, whether it’s Tottenham or Monaco or Inter. I’m at the point of selling Balogun to anyone as long as the fee is satisfactory. Whether he’s been banished for pushing for a transfer or for sulking or anything else, it’s long past time to fish. It’s time to cut bait (to fish would mean to continue to feel out options; to cut bait would mean to give up and move on). It’s starting to feel like the latter option is the likelier one.
For one, Nketiah continues to flirt with being productive. Against Palace, he did squirt one shot past the keeper only to be denied by the post. After that, having been put through on goal by Rice, he dinked over the keeper…and the crossbar. It’s true that he did make the most of some contact from Palace’s keeper to earn the penalty that we’d need to secure the three points…but, on balance, it’s hard to come away believing that he’s the answer to our prayers.
If Balogun can’t supplant Nketiah in training, well, that says a lot about Balogun. Nketiah, after all, is a short-term stop-gap at best, someone you summon for early League Cup matches or dead-rubber Champions League matches or, well, or when no one else is available. The fact that Arteta hasn’t seen fit to select Balogun even as so much as a sub is telling. There’s something lacking in Balogun’s approach.
Arteta has, after all, promoted Saka, Martinelli, and Saliba to the first team. He’s convinced Ødegaard, Rice, and Partey to commit to the club. In short, he has an eye for the kind of player this club needs in order to compete for the highest honours. If Arteta trusts Nketiah more than he trusts Balogun, well, that suggests that Nketiah is more-committed to competing and fighting and, well, winning. At some level or another, it seems, Balogun is not committed to the same competing or fighting or winning. If it’s true that there’s something lacking in his mindset, we should certainly sell him.
After all, we all know that this club has spent altogether too much time coddling too many enfants terribles. If Balogun is discontent, let him trod the path paved by Omari Hutchinson, another whose green-eyed gazungas led him astray.
I tire of this saga. Sell him. Here, there, anywhere. It matters not.