Folarin Balogun stepped off the bench last night to make his first-team debut for Arsenal against Dundalk in the Europa League – and afterwards received congratulatory messages from Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock on Instagram.
The 19-year-old has been reluctant to sign a new contract with Arsenal due to his belief that the pathway to the first-team isn’t clear, although this outing might help change that.
Balogun was a surprise inclusion on the bench for the Europa League clash and he was introduced for the final 16 minutes of the 3-0 victory over the Irish outfit.
Following the game, he took to Instagram to speak of his pride at finally making the Arsenal first-team and he also received some messages from two of his teammates.
Balogun scored 10 goals for Steve Bould’s under-23 ranks last season, looking like a player who was very much set to make the grade at first-team level.
For whatever reason though, the 19-year-old hasn’t felt convinced that the first-team path is clear and for that reason, he decided to hang fire on signing a new deal.
Arteta has made it pretty clear since he arrived at the club that if younger players are good enough they will play. With that in mind, Balogun must be seriously considering performing a u-turn and signing a new deal.
The youngster is powerful, quick and perhaps more crucially, has a keen eye for a goal. Balogun’s challenge is to continue learning his trade and forcing his way into Arteta’s plans on a frequent basis.
The Arsenal starlet is valued at £8 million but if he can earn a few more shots at playing in the first-team, the Gunners might fancy convincing him to stay beyond this season.