Stuck behind Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah has left Falorin Balogun in a bit of a dilemma. His recent decision to play for the US men’s national team instead of for England suggests that he values playing far more than he cares for watching. Of course, that loan-spell to Reims saw him net 21 goals in 27 matches. That seems like a pretty convincing case for him to be deserve a larger role here at Arsenal, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. With Chelsea sniffing around, let’s slap a price of, oh, say £72m. Maybe £88m? We know they have the money

£50m has been reported as a likely starting point for negotiation, but only Haaland (30.6) and Robert Lewandowski (25.3) having higher xG than his 25.0 in Europe’s top five leagues. We may turn our noses up at Ligue 1’s status, but that doesn’t mean that Chelsea have to. Having managed to move Havertz, Azpiliceuta, Kante, Mendy, Mount Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek and Koulibaly, they’re apparently freed from any concerns around any FFP sanctions and are back to free-spending ways. With rumours of Lukaku being sold to Inter, they’ll be looking for someone who can lead the line and possibly even fill the back of the net.

I’m never a fan of selling to rivals, and there’s a distant-to-decent chance that Balogun could come back to London and pick up right where he left off at Reims. Still, he wants to be a nailed-on starter, and that’s not going to happen here. There’s been interest from AC Milan, Inter, Marseille, Monaco, and RB Leipzig, and if any of them is willing to match our (reported) request for a £50m fee, that seems like the best option for us. Pochettino is the kind of manager who can train up a young player, and, for as much as we might have enjoyed watching Chelsea’s chaos this past season, he’s also the kind of manager who can elevate a squad to be more than the sum of its parts.

Why not sell Nketiah instead of Balogun and let Balogun at least get closer to that starter’s role he covets? There’s no guarantee that Balogun would accept that, and we might Nketiah only to see Balogun simmer with discontent as he watches Jesus lead the line while he comes on in the 70th minute or starts League Cup matches. What’s more, Nketiah’s mentality and development suggest that he’s better-suited to the role he’s been asked to play. He doesn’t complain or agitate; he just trains and waits and, when he plays, scores a few goals. If you’ve seen the All Or Nothing documentary, you might remember a moment when Lokonga complained about a lack of playing time. Nketiah replied, “so what, my friend? You think you’re the only man not f*cking playing? Stop feeling sorry for yourself”. While not an “elite” mentality, it’s a determined one.

As for Nketiah and Balogun, one stat to consider is that Nketiah has averaged 0.44 non-penalty goals in 90 in the Prem; Balogun averaged 0.45 non-penalty goals per 90 in Ligue 1. For as glitzy as Balogun’s scoring was this past season, it is a near-perfect to match to Nketiah’s. On the other hand, there’s a case to be made for the idea that Balogun has greater potential and, perhaps, a wider range of skills. Aged 24, Nketiah feels like he’s closer to his ceiling. It’s difficult, however, to see either one getting enough playing time to explore, much less expand on, their potential unless Arteta agrees to give one or the other more time on the pitch.

It’s a tough call. Nketiah is more willing to play a reduced role here but is more-limited. Balogun, the more-intriguing talent, wants to start. Scylla and Charybdis indeed. Maybe a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush. If he opposes another loan and insists he go somewhere where he’ll start, we may end up having to sell. However, the risk of Balogun proving himself to be the better one is too great to see him end up at Chelsea unless they offer us a Mudrykian (Mudryk-esque?) fee. If Chelsea come at us with a bid, let’s play the game the way West Ham played it with us. £50m ain’t it. Double it, and we’ll think about considering it.

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