Balogun ready for a ‘new challenge’ after England U21 goal


rsenal youngster Folarin Balogun says he feels ready for a new challenge after dominating at youth level.

The striker, who scored his first England Under-21s goal on his first start for the Young Lions on Thursday night, has been given limited chances at senior level but is a cut above at youth level.

In 10 games for Arsenal’s Under-23s across the Premier League 2 and Papa John’s Trophy this season, the forward has scored 11 goals.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta fought hard to ensure the 20-year-old signed a new deal in north London rather than leave the club over the summer, though he has started just one senior game this season – the opening day Premier League defeat to Brentford when the squad was ravaged by injury.

Two appearances off the bench have followed but otherwise Balogun, who was born in New York but has elected to represent England at youth level, has had limited chances.

After shining for the Young Lions, manager Lee Carsley said the forward had outgrown youth football and Balogun himself says he’s ready for a new challenge.

“I have played youth football for a little while, I have obviously scored a lot of goals at that level and improved at that level drastically from when I started,” said Balogun.

“I do feel like I am ready for a new challenge but I am not sure what that might be, it might be a loan or if I am needed at Arsenal then I am here and the gaffer knows that.

“I am definitely open to a new challenge but it is something that whatever that challenge is I will be ready.

“I know the potential I could have and that I need to achieve is massive. I haven’t achieved it yet. What I see now I would just describe as glimpses, things that need to be worked on and can be improved.

“The performances I am putting in are all I can do at the moment. I know that I am going in the right direction.”

A loan would seem obvious, though the rapid rise of Emile Smith Rowe at Arsenal is testament that patience can pay off.

Smith Rowe, who was handed a first senior England call up this week, was still playing Under-23s football this time last year after loan spells with RB Leipzig and Huddersfield, but has suddenly become a key man for Arteta.

“This time last year Emile was playing 23s football, so that just shows how quickly things can change in football,” said Balogun.

“I know that I need to be patient and I have complete faith in the gaffer. Whatever the plan is I will give 100 per cent and I know it will work out.”

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