From Emile Smith Rowe to Bukayo Saka, there are plenty of promising talents coming through the Arsenal U23s at the moment, so could Folarin Balogun be the next to shine?
Balogun is the latest prodigious youngster to come off the Arsenal conveyor belt, with the teenager recently earning his first professional contract as reported by Goal.com last week.
Born in the United States and raised in London, Folarin is of Nigerian descent and has represented the USA at the U19s level. Like many Gunners starlets, he joined the club at an early age, he was just 7 and has been patiently climbing through the ranks ever since.
Flo, as he is fondly called by his teammates, is a versatile attacker who could slot anywhere in the final third and due to his remarkable goal scoring prowess, the 17-year-old is often deployed to lead the attack.
He scored 9 times in just 14 appearances for the U18’s last term. On those few occasions, he couldn’t bury chances himself, the youngster turned provider four times for his teammates and this season he has 13 goals so far for Ken Gillard’s team, including an impressive hat-trick against Reading.
The striker doesn’t get all his goals by stat-padding against the smaller teams either, he’s only failed to score in two starts this season, and he has goals in all four of our most recent London derbies, against Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and now Fulham.
The 17-year-old’s hot streak earned him four appearances with the U23s, and although yet to start, he showed promise in his cameo appearances as sub. A direct and tricky poacher, Balogun remains highly regarded by his coaches at Hale End and there is a growing belief that he could be close to making more first-team appearances if his performances continue on the same level for the youth teams.
Reiss Nelson is quoted last season, on the club’s official website saying that:
“Flo Balogun is like a young Eddie Nketiah up front because he gets into good positions and always scores goals…”
On the pitch, the first team entertain BATE Borisov on Thursday night, with an early 5.55pm Kick Off time.