Arsenal have two young strikers in Eddie Nketiah and the returning Folarin Balogun to watch this pre-season, but who should Mikel Arteta go with long-term?
Arsenal enter pre-season with perhaps a battle of sorts if they allow it. Gabriel Jesus is the team’s “first choice” striker, but who is his backup might create a little competition.
Eddie Nketiah had dibs on that position last season, but now, with the return of Folarin Balogun, who finished joint fourth in Ligue 1’s goal-scoring charts with 21, there is competition.
Folarin Balogun or Eddie Nketiah? Arsenal’s striker conundrum
With Arsenal reportedly slapping a £35m price tag on Balogun as the summer transfer window has opened, is there a world where we could see a battle for the backup position behind Jesus?
There is a case to be made that Balogun, after scoring 21 league goals, deserves a chance to stake his claim for the Gunners next season.
Coming up through the ranks at the Arsenal academy, Balogun was always seen as the ‘better’ striker when compared to Nkeitah. That’s nothing against Eddie, but Balogun possesses all the right tools and brings something different to the front line.
Whether Mikel Arteta sees this or not, and the fact that Nketiah has a new contract might already have him forming a decision, Balogun’s 21 league goals can’t go unnoticed.
For some Arsenal fans, it should be Nketiah who is on the transfer list, but that is unfair as he kept the club afloat when Jesus was out with his knee injury last season.
But for Balogun to simply be cast off as an immediate summer departure needs some serious re-thinking from the club. Let’s remember Balogun is three years younger than Nketiah, and one can argue his ceiling is also far higher.
Balogun is coming off an impressive season as he started 34 times in all competitions for Reims, and he deserves a chance to make his name at Arsenal.
Nketiah or Balogun? That is the £35m question facing Arteta and his team.