Folarin Balogun has worked his way up to the Arsenal first team and got to celebrate his first senior goal for the English Premier League club on Thursday.
The New York native made his Europa League debut on Thursday against Norwegian side Molde and scored the third goal in a 3-0 group stage victory. It was Balogun’s first senior goal for the club, as he helped the London side clinch a knockout round berth with the road win.
Balogun entered the match in the 82nd minute and made an immediate impact, scoring 30 seconds later for the Gunners. His cool finish into the middle of the goal was an insurance strike for Arsenal, who led through earlier second-half goals Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson.
Folarin Balogun looked set to leave Arsenal next summer after failed contract talks.
But the club reopened talks, and Mikel Arteta wants 19-year-old to stay.
30 seconds after coming on against Molde he scored his first senior goal for the Gunners with his first touch ❤️ pic.twitter.com/m4ujcVlYHR
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) November 26, 2020
“I’m feeling really happy, it shows that all the hard work I’ve put in over the years is just starting to pay off,” Balogun said in a club interview. “It’s important that I keep working hard to enjoy more moments like this.
“I didn’t think that particular [break for the goal] was going to be my chance, but I always try to stay ready and I’m happy that on this occasion it paid off.
“It’s been good [to be involved], it’s nice to see the boss showing faith in me. It feels like this is good experience for me, I just need to keep on learning, keep on adding to my game and I’m happy that I could contribute today.”
Balogun, 19, is eligible to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team or England, after appearing for both at youth levels in the past. He has made four appearances for the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team, but since has appeared for England’s U-18 and U-20 teams.
His current deal with Arsenal is set to expire in June, but club manager Mikel Arteta has hinted at a possible new deal coming for the playmaker.
“Yes, it was well deserved for the boy,” Arteta said. “He is working really hard, he had some difficult months with all the speculation around him but he has handled the situation in a really mature way. He wants to stay, we want him to stay, we give him the opportunity and he took it straight away.”
Balogun has scored four goals and added two assists in 11 combined appearances with Arsenal’s U-23, but could stay with the first team after his quick impression this week. The Gunners face off with Wolves on Sunday in Premier League play.