Folarin Balogun showed no respect to his teammates following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
On Friday, the Arsenal Under-23 side were on top form. Fronted by Folarin Balogun as they hosted Brighton and Hove Albion at Meadow Park, the talented 19-year-old netted a fine hat-trick, including a superb solo goal, in turn reaffirming the hype surrounding him is not without merit.
Coming the evening before Mikel Arteta led his side out against the Saints in the defence of their FA Cup crown, the question over his involvement in the first team returned to the fore.
Showing he’s capable of playing at a higher level in the short spells he’s had in the first team, the discussion over whether he should be granted more opportunities to prove his worth or if his omission from the senior side is justified given the contractual situation continues to cast a dark cloud over the club.
Folarin Balogun shows lack of respect to Arsenal and teammates
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He has been allowed to get into a position where there are only six months left on his deal to run. Moreover, he can even engage in pre-contract talks with clubs across the continent. It should never have come to this.
Arsenal do, however, have a contract ready to be signed. From what’s been said, it’s sat on the table for some time. Yet still Balogun remains without his future resolved. The issue? Playing time.
No signature will be penned until he’s given assurances of his path into the first team. Arteta has repeatedly stated these will come. But they won’t until he commits his future. This particular bump in the road has brought everything to a standstill: the manager can’t make special cases for certain players without their utter devotion to the cause.
There is a new culture at Arsenal that has been in the works since the moment the Spaniard walked through the door. Matteo Guendouzi knows full well the consequences of breaching the boundaries.
So, minutes after the full-time whistle was blown at St. Mary’s, Balogun decided to post a video on his official Instagram of one of his goals against Brighton, captioned with a ‘face palm’ emoji. His intentions are clear.
This is poor behaviour. Indicative of someone with no respect for his fellow teammates. Mocking the club who have given him an opportunity, have spoken in no uncertain terms about how much he is wanted in north London and lauded his ability is childish and petulant.
Of course, one can understand the frustration. It’s a situation that every footballer goes through. You earn your place in the team. Eddie Nketiah is severely struggling at the minute, but what he did to get to his point was keep his head down and work. Put the hard yards in on the training pitch. Go out on loan to play regularly.
There are ways to channel your emotions. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t consider the timing of his actions, they’re still poorly thought out and lacking in maturity.
If you want to be scoring goals like that in the senior side, then sign the contract. It’s that simple. But you can’t expect a manager to allow someone who is running down their deal to usurp those who’ve shown commitment, regardless of whether you’re ‘better’ than them or not. Should Arteta act as such he would set a dangerous precedent.
Balogun could be world-class. He could be another Yaya Sanogo. Right now, based on his attitude, it doesn’t matter.