Arsenal academy chief Per Mertesacker reveals Folarin Balogun will leave on loan in January
Arsenal academy chief Per Mertesacker backs Folarin Balogun to make a big step into the first team… but reveals the talented young striker is set to leave the club on loan in January
- Folarin Balogun is one of the most exciting young talents in Arsenal’s academy
- He has already played nine times and is backed to make the move
- Academy chief Per Mertesacker says he’s most likely to play for the first team
- He revealed the 20-year-old forward is likely to be loaned out in the January window
Arsenal academy director Per Mertesacker has picked Folarin Balogun as the youngster most likely to move up to the first team – but reveals he is likely to be sent out on loan in the January transfer window.
The 20-year-old New York-born striker has already played nine times for the first team, mostly in cup competitions.
That said, he has made two Premier League appearances under Mikel Arteta this season, starting against Brentford in the campaign opener and then against Chelsea.
Folarin Balogun set to leave Arsenal on loan in January transfer window
Balogun has been tipped by Per Mertesacker to make the move to the Arsenal first team
‘I think the closest, at the moment, to taking this step [to the first team] is Flo Balogun,’ Mertesacker said this week, as reported the Subway.
“He is transferred to the dressing room of the first team.
“He’s still playing Under-23 football and will probably be loaned out in January because you need the extra exposure to get to the next level, so he needs to make that transition.”
Arsenal have spent big in recent years, bringing in Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares, Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale.
Mertesacker (second from right) is currently the academy manager at his former club Arsenal
Striker Balogun, 20, is also one of the England Under-21 side’s biggest hopes.
That said, there is still a healthy mix of bought talent and academy graduates in the squad, with Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka among the talented youngsters who have crossed the age groups.
‘You can’t always predict [who will make the step up]’, continued Mertesacker. “I think Emile and Bukayo had their chances and performed very well.
“We won against Chelsea and then a few games, so those are times you have to take advantage of.
“But which player is then capable and prepared for this moment to come?” Playing well enough for the manager to say to himself: “Listen, he’s ready and he can go up in rank, he’s in the first team, we don’t need to buy a player at 30 or 40 million”, which is not sustainable.’