The demands are high
Folarin Balogun and Arsenal have been in negotiations over a new deal for some time. Mikel Arteta has assured fans that the player wants to remain at Arsenal and that talks are progressing well.
“I think I am pretty positive about it and every time I spoke to him, he mentions the same thing, that he’s determined to stay here and he wants to stay here,” said Arteta.
“He has some really positive conversations with his agent as well and [Arsenal technical director] Edu is in charge of that.”
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 21: Edu Arsenal Technical Director chats to Mikel Arteta Arsenal Head Coach before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Arsenal FC at Goodison Park on December 21, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
“He’s been spending a lot of time and energy to make that deal happen because it’s important for us to keep our talent in the house, and what we can guarantee is that we’re doing everything we can to keep him.”
There have been suggestions amongst well-informed individuals that Balogun’s wage demands, be them his own or what his representatives are asking for, are figures similar to that of the young established players in the first team.
The guarantee of more regular senior action is also firmly part of discussions and with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah all ahead of him in the pecking order it is tricky to provide this.
Why Arsenal should say no
Whilst it is important to look at youth academy products as strong assets for clubs to develop, keep and hopefully integrate into the first team, it is also important to consider the impacts further down the line of offering such teenagers significant deals.
Were Arsenal to cave and offer Folarin Balogun a substantial contract, before he has even made a Premier League appearance and convinced not only the supporter base but the club that he is in fact worthy of such a deal, it could have serious implications on further negotiations with other youngsters.
A young player in the academy seeing Balogun run down his contract and at the end of it earn a significant pay rise could think to themselves that this is the way to go, not to mention their and future agents.
Rather than allowing themselves to be tied down to a future deal at a lower wage, using the example of Balogun, other young players then have leverage in negotiations.
Arsenal cannot afford to allow a young player and their representatives to dictate and strongarm them into providing inflated deals.
LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 25: Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Bayern Muenchen at Stamford Bridge on February 25, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
It might be that Arsenal lose Balogun and he goes on to become a top class player elsewhere. However, there is no guarantee that this will happen. There is an element of regret surrounding the successes of Serge Gnabry, Ismael Bennacer, Donyell Malen and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, but these are still a small percentage in the wider, lesser spoken of, context.
For every promising player that has gone onto great things, there are plenty more which ultimately haven’t. Arsenal cannot afford to undermine their position and control with future negotiations by caving to the high demands of a player and his representatives who is yet to convince the club of such earnings.