Nigerians have some history with Arsenal football club. Apart from numerous Nigerians supporting the North London club, some Nigerian footballers have made waves at the club. From the legendary Kanu Nwankwo to Alex Iwobi and now Folarin Balogun. The name Folarin Balogun does not ring a bell among Nigerians.
Many were surprised to see a Nigerian on the scoresheet for the Gunners in their 3-0 Europa League away at Molde on Thursday Night. There is Bukayo Saka, though Nigerian born, is already turning out for the Three Lions of England. Folarin’s name readily gives him away as a Nigerian from the Yoruba speaking South-West.
Who is Folarin Balogun?
Folarin was on the scoresheet against Molde
Folarin Balogun was born on the 3rd of July 2001 in New York City, USA, and immigrated to England as a 2-year old child, growing up in London. His parents were born in Nigeria.
He joined Arsenal at the age of eight. At the same time, he sometimes played with his previous Sunday side, Aldersbrook. He also had a trial with Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and nearly signed for them.
The teenager scored 28 goals in 28 matches across all youth competitions last season as the Gunners won the Under-18s Premier League title.
Balogun has been lethal for Arsenal reserves
He was promoted to the Under-23 side in the 2019-20 season but that has not slowed him down, scoring 10 goals and registering four assists in 15 appearances in Premier League 2.
The 19-year-old made his senior debut in the Europa League on the 29th of October 2020, coming on as a substitute in the 74th minute in a group stage match against Dundalk.
He has represented both England and the USA at the under-18 level and is also eligible to play for Nigeria on the international stage. In 2019, he appeared and scored for the England national under-18 football team in a tournament in Dubai. After having been capped for England by the England national under-17 football team, appearing in the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, he was called up by the United States U-18 men’s national soccer team in August 2018 for a training camp in the Czech Republic. In October 2020 he made an appearance for the England national under-20 football team against Wales.
Arsenal reportedly rejected a £5million offer from Brentford for the forward in January 2020, while he has also attracted interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs and other Premier League clubs. Brentford wanted him as a replacement for Ollie Watkins after he was sold to Aston Villa.
Balogun is being mentored by Arsenal’s captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has had nice things to say about the young striker.
Speaking in Arsenal’s program for the match against Molde, Aubameyang said: “Flo Balogun was one of those who came on in the last game.
“He is very, very talented, for sure, and he shows every time he plays with us that he’s a really great talent.
“He works hard and is a humble guy as well. I love his style – he’s like an American rapper – he’s cool!
Arsenal are hoping to keep him at the club
19-year-old Folarin Balogun scored his first Arsenal goal 37 seconds after coming on as a substitute against Molde ⚡ pic.twitter.com/hOUE3IO0qf
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 26, 2020
He scored his first senior goal on the 26th of November 2020, in a Europa League match against Molde, with his second touch of the ball just 38 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
Balogun’s contract at Arsenal runs out at the end of the season. He looked set to leave the club last summer after refusing to sign a new deal. However, Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta has made it clear that he wants Balogun to stay.