The news that Folarin Balogun has signed a new contract with Arsenal served as music to the ears of Gunners fans around the world with many believing he has real potential to kick on and become a huge star with the club. Whether or not he can live up to that remains to be seen but at the age of just 19, there’s every reason to believe he can do some serious damage.
“So I came here at nine,” Balogun told Arsenal Media. “I remember being at Hale End and coming into the training ground for the first time and seeing all the older boys training and I was just thinking to myself, ‘These are the same guys you see on TV.’
“From that age, straight away, I just had a drive and ambition to be that guy eventually. As time has gone on, I’ve seen loads of different coaches help me in my career. Now I could just see that the work I’ve put in over the years is starting to pay off.
“Kwame Ampadu, when I first came here at [under] 18s, he showed me tough love. But it was definitely something I needed at the time. Even now, Steve Bould he’s managed me really well this season, making sure that I took more of a leadership role, which is something I need to learn as well.
“My ambitions for next season are to make an impact in the first team. I see it as something that I’ve taken upon myself to be able to go over there and make an impact, not just be one of the numbers.
“I want to be somebody who eventually leads that group, so I would say I have quite driven ambitions. We’ll see if I can make them happen.”
“Bukayo and Emile have shown me that if you just stick at something for long enough, eventually it will pay off,” Balogun told Arsenal Media.
“I take huge inspiration from them. I thought both of them seemed ready when they were called up each and every time. I thought they definitely prepared, not just physically but also mentally, for the challenges. I think that’s something I’ve learned from them.
“Every time I come over, all the lads are friendly but in particular I would say the strikers’ union [have helped me most]. Laca, Auba, Eddie, we all talk, we all get along and laugh.
“They’re just continuously trying to give me little tips here and there, things to help me improve my game. That’s good to see.”
Are you excited about Balogun’s future in North London?