ENGLISH FA Cup defending champions Arsenal have rejected a £3m big from Premier league rivals Sheffield United for their Nigerian teenage striker Folarin Balogun because the club sees him as a long term prospect who can take over from skipper Pierre Aubameyang.
Yesterday, Arsenal succeeded in getting captain Aubameyang to sign a new three-year deal, said to be worth in the region of £250,000 per week. However, with Aubameyang being 31, the club is looking at long-term replacements, so is desperate to hold on to Folarin, 19, who they rate very highly.
Sheffield United had offered £3m plus add-ons for the 19 year-old but the Gunners are reportedly holding out for a deal worth in the region of £15m. It is unlikely the Blades hierarchy will sanction that kind of expenditure considering that the striker who is embroiled in a contract stand-off with Arsenal is in the final year of his current deal and can leave on a free next season.
Regarded as one of the best attacking players to graduate from Hale End, Balogun has also attracted transfer interest from Southampton, Brighton, AC Milan and Brentford who had a £5m bid for the England U-19 international turned down in January. Sheffield United coach Chris Wilder has confirmed that they are interested in signing Balogun as the club is in the in the market for a striker following their opening day 2-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers and the unavailability of Lys Mousset.
Mr Wilder said: “Yeah, we made an enquiry and that’s left with the chief executive at our club and at Arsenal. We want attributes that suit us at the top of the club and hopefully move us forward”.
Balogun’s future has been the subject of debate in recent months after he refused to sign a new deal, with the current agreement between club and player set to run out in June 2021. Balogun was in scintillating form in the Premier League reserves last season, scoring 10 goals in 15 matches and has already opened his goalscoring account this campaign, netting in a 2-1 win against Ipswich Town in the English Football League Trophy.