Arsenal open to letting 20-year-old starlet secure January loan move– can Arteta afford to do so?

Arsenal ready to let Folarin Balogun leave on loan in January

According to The Athletic (Subscription Required), Arsenal are ready to let Folarin Balogun secure a loan move away from the club in January. The 20-year-old starlet started the first game of the season against Brentford but has only managed to play in two games since then.

The starlet joined the Arsenal academy at the tender age of 10. He has since worked hard to move through the ranks and make a name for himself in the youth set-up. In the last two years, he has been on the fringes of getting some first-team action but is yet to establish himself. He could now secure a loan move in January.

Should Balogun leave the club in the winter transfer window? And can Mikel Arteta afford to let him leave mid-season?

Mikel Arteta would be playing a risky game by letting Balogun leave in January

Since being promoted to the senior side, the Englishman has only been able to rack up 9 appearances. Most of them have been off the bench during the dying embers of the game. However, he has still managed to score 2 goals and provide 1 assist during that time. Due to a lack of chances this season, he has plied his trade with the U-23/21s

Arsenal are ready to let Folarin Balogun secure a loan move in January.
Arsenal are ready to let Folarin Balogun secure a loan move in January. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

He has been prolific for them, scoring 16 times in 12 appearances. The youngster was the hero for the U-21 team last week, as he helped them come back from a 2-0 deficit against Ipswich Town to seal a 4-3 victory on penalties. Balogun has captained Kevin Betsy’s side often this term, and the coach believes that the striker has developed well despite a lack of minutes in the senior set-up.

His link-up play and off-the-ball movement in particular are thought to have gotten better. However, consistent minutes for any Premier League side or Championship club could hone his talent even further. But taking this step in January could be a huge risk for Mikel Arteta.

Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are set to be out of contract in the summer. There is no certainty on whether they will see out their deals or seal a mid-season move. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will also be unavailable in January due to his AFCON duties with Gabon.

This does not leave the club with a lot of backup options. They can always convince Nketiah and Lacazette, or at least one of them to stay till the end of the season. However, they will then be ruining their chances of acquiring a transfer fee for the concerned player if the duo refuses to put pen to paper on a new deal. Thus, Arteta needs to evaluate their futures before making an informed decision on Balogun.

Folarin Balogun needs the minutes to develop into a first-team player 

In the three games he has played for the first team this season, the New York-born striker has not looked confident. He did not look comfortable with the intensity of the game and found it challenging to topple the burly defenders. These are often signs of youngsters that are just making their mark on senior football.

Arsenal will consider the team, league, and environment they will be exposing Folarin Balogun to before deciding his destination. (Getty Images)
Arsenal will consider the team, league, and environment they will be exposing Folarin Balogun to before deciding his destination. (Getty Images)

A loan move could help him learn some of the finer aspects of the game without having the pressure of the famous red jersey. There will always be high expectations at Arsenal, but he might be afforded the time and proper coaching at a club with a history of developing young talents into fine professionals. 

This is also why the Gunners are considering the team, league, and environment they will be exposing the starlet to before making a decision on his destination. Thus, while Arsenal could be in a fix by letting the 20-year-old leave the box, he could benefit from the minutes.

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It is a complex decision but in the long run, it would bode everybody well if he gets consistent game-time. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang shall be out of contract in 2023, and by then, Balogun could be the man to lead the club, provided he shows the potential to do so in the next year and a half.

But in the short run, it is safe to say that Arteta should keep the youngster at the club to make sure the Gunners have a strong finish to this season and don’t run into any issues up front due to injuries, AFCON, or outgoings.