Liverpool have been mentioned among the clubs to have “tracked” Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun, who is pushing for a move away that could be worth £8 million.
Balogun is now in the final year of his contract with the Gunners, and after failing to secure a January switch to Brentford has informed the club of his desire to leave.
The 19-year-old striker, who scored 10 goals and laid on four assists in 15 games for the Arsenal under-23s in Premier League 2 last season, is said to be unconvinced of his chances of a breakthrough at the Emirates.
And according to Sky Sports, Balogun is “happy to see out his current deal until 2021,” though the north London club are open to a sale for “at least £8 million.”
Brentford could revive their interest if they secure promotion to the Premier League—or, perhaps, if top scorer Ollie Watkins joins Leeds, as rumoured—but interestingly, Liverpool are also named as possible suitors.
The report claims that “he is highly regarded at other clubs in the Premier League and has been tracked by the likes of Liverpool, as well as teams in Germany.”
It seems an unlikely move, however, given Balogun’s relative inexperience and the price tag, particularly as the Reds already have Rhian Brewster breaking through.
While Balogun scored freely at youth level last season, Brewster netted 11 times in 22 games for Swansea in the Championship following his loan move in January, and as well as being just 15 months older, is already on the books.
Clearing the pathway for Brewster’s return would surely be preferable, especially given the parallels between Balogun’s situation and that of Bobby Duncan in 2018.
Duncan opted to leave Man City in 2017, but with the club retaining him on scholarship terms for another year, he instead trained with Wigan’s first team, going a full year without competitive football, before moving to Liverpool.
A season later, he and his agent publicly forced through a switch to Fiorentina, which has not worked out well for the 19-year-old so far.
While his actions could have been fuelled by ambition, Liverpool may have learned a valuable lesson with Duncan, and this will be reinforced as Jurgen Klopp places character on par with quality when signing players.
Balogun agitating for a move should not reflect on him negatively, but it could serve as a red flag in terms of his patience as a young player.
Along with Brewster, the Reds also have Paul Glatzel working his way up the ranks, having recovered from a long-term ACL injury to report back for first-team training towards the end of the season.
Beyond that there is Layton Stewart, who scored 16 goals in 23 games for the academy in 2019/20, and like fellow youth striker Fidel O’Rourke signed a new contract earlier this summer.
Liverpool are well-stocked when it comes to young goalscorers, which may have been why they seem to have also overlooked a £1 million move for previously reported target Joe Gelhardt.
According to BBC Sport, Leeds are in “advanced talks” over bringing Gelhardt to Elland Road, as Wigan seek to generate funds due to their administration.
While their profiles are different, the situations of Brewster, Glatzel, Stewart and Gelhardt may go some length to highlighting why Liverpool may not be expected to act upon their interest in Balogun at £8 million.