What happened to Folarin at Monaco, and the fate of other young players at Arsenal


We recently published an article: Could keeping Folarin Bolgun have made a different to Arsenal this season? and in response our long term reader Le Gall wrote a detailed review of Folarin, from his own personal experience of watching the player.

I felt this was too good a piece to be left just in our correspondence column, and so with Le Gall’s kind permission I’m republishing the commentary here as an article, in case you missed it.


I happen to watch Folarin’s game every time I can, after watching at least half of his games for Reims last season.

First thing to say – he plays very well. His moves, his holdup play, the way he thinks ahead too: he’s the embodiment of a young player who knows that no player will ever move as fast as the ball can; every time he touches the ball, his team’s move gathers momentum. As for his main quality which is the perfect timing of his darting runs behind the opposite team’s defense, well … I think everyone could/should agree we could have done with them this season.

Now … he doesn’t score as much as he did last season, that’s a fact, but a fact which can be accounted for quite easily when you take a closer look at his season’s story.
First, he hit the bars several times, not to mention a few goals disallowed after dubious (imo) VARdecisions … but let’s put that aside.

For there are other reasons, and as is often the case when goal-scorers stop scoring for a while, they have to do with the what’s going on in their minds, not their bodies.
To begin with, let’s not forget he had been rejected by his boyhood club.The kid had been a Gooner 13 years, his loan had been one of the most successful in the club’s history, but after coming home, he wasn’t even given the shadow of a chance to shine in the red-and-white. I’ll get back to this « loan » policy later on.

Then, Monaco … they are anything but a club, they are just a structure aiming at laundering (Monaco is a tax-heaven microstate) and making big money out of the sales of young (French, mostly) players, and they are very likely to do so by bending each and every one of the rules they are supposed to play by (« bending » is an understatement, just check out« Football Leaks-Rybolovlev-Mendes »).

The boy had a part in the decision, of course, and he’s now a wealthy man, but so are his agent-advisers, and I’d be inclined to think they put some real pressure on him to sign up there, « there » in that case being not exactly the place for a kid with his profile (foreign, young, truly ambitious – which F. is) to thrive.

This is a team without a public, something like 6000 spectators on average, and if the Arsenal stadium is a library, then « Stade-Louis-II » is a graveyard. Moreover, Folarin is competing for the CF position with Wissam Ben Yedder, who’s been the club’s CF, top-scorer, and skipper for 5 years, and who is not known for being particularly helpful to youngsters – certainly not as Laca was to Eddie, the exact opposite in fact. Lastly – and some might put the blame on the kid for it, I don’t – but Monaco lost their first games of the season against Nice, and Flo missed 2 penalties that day, which is bound to have weighed on his mind – which might still do, in fact.

I’ll add a word or two about Hütter, who’s the caricature of a distant, ice-cold, manager, while Flo had given his very best under Will Still’s – the State de Reims’s manager – who is the exact opposite: warm, fun, straightforward, creative … Must have felt like being thrown head first into an ice bath, right at the end of a sunbathing afternoon on a Paradise Island, for our boy.

Anyway, there is a pattern at the Arsenal since Arteta took over, which has been to give the cold shoulder (understatement, again) to our Hale End graduates. I said I’d get back to our « loan » policy, the truth is it has become a sinister joke. Who will do better than Flo at Reims, or Joe Willock at Newcastle, I’d like to know. What’s the point in loaning out our kids if, whatever they might prove during their loan spells, they’ll be shown the door by The Arsenal? What players would Joe, Folarin, Reiss, Emile too have become, had they been given the playing time – and their performances commented upon as benevolently – that was given to … I don’t know: Willian, Sambi, Vieira, Trossard, Jorginho, Havertz, Ceballlos, etc.? How can they improve if they do not play?

Reiss is a case in point, he did extremely well at Feyenoord (I watched him play, too), was brilliant every time he was given a cameo last season, but was never given a real chance in the PL, and guess what – he’s kind of fading away, now … even though I found him excellent against Liverpool in the FA. By the way, the way his game was commented upon by the fans who find all sort of pretexts to justify buying players, rather than promoting some of ours, was enlightening … Nobody noticed that we played much better with him on the pitch (the ball moving much faster with him than with Martinelli – see Folarin above), and conceded the two goals only after he was taken off, nobody highlighted the quality of his positioning in the center of the pitch, the perfect timing of his run, both of which allowed Ramsdale to attempt this wonderful long pass (not the other way round), but there’s an infinity of « he missed an opportunity » – as though Alisson had done nothing for it and should be sold (and Eddie, Emile, along with him)?

I’ve read Liam’s book lately, and unfortunately, I can only agree with him when he writes: « Many of the now more than 500 employees don’t have the foggiest idea about Arsenal or its history, … it felt like the soul of the place was being lost. … it had become more a business than a club. » It breaks my heart to say that what has happened to Joe, Folarin, and is happening to Reiss, Emile, Eddie, might be the perfect illustration for this.


7 Replies to “What happened to Folarin at Monaco, and the fate of other young players at Arsenal”

  1. Finally a balanced article critizingnAryets who has totally failed at Arsenal. He jas destroyed the soul of the club and his signings are catastrophic.

    William, Soares, Mari, Fabio, Haveetz, Kiwior.

    All the while not going a chance to , Balogun, Nelson, Walters , ESR whosaved his job. All acendemy pmaywrs now know there is no path to first team.

    Aryera is a failed managernat Arsenal amd Ira time for him to leave. Arteta OUT

  2. To say I disagree, Free, would be an understatement. Arteta has utterly transformed Arsenal in a positive way, and there are a dozen or more articles here to show how he’s done it.

  3. What is the use of loaning players out where they do well, then bring them back to the club and NOT use them? Reiss is an excellent example of this and even though Arteta has changed the way the team plays, he does NOT appreciate the class that Reiss has shown on the field. Another example to me is how Saka has become so obsessive with scoring that he very, very seldom passes the ball to a player in a better position. When the really great players look at heir statistics, have a look at the number of assists they have. Saka falls very short withthat.

  4. I wouldn’t say Arteta has failed as a manager.

    He has been a perfect transitional appointment. Got rid of the over paid players, bad attitudes etc.

    Has all his signing been perfect, no but what manager gets every deal right.

    I do believe us fans are slightly to blame for Arteta and Edus approach to bring in new players all the time because the amount of time we attack our players if they don’t perform every game (Xhaka prime example). Youngsters are a risk but I would rather us give some of them more playing opportunities however unless they start life with world class performances (Saka) we fans become relentless in demanding the club spends money.

    I hope ESR gets opportunities but it looks highly unlikely. The Hale end group are given their opportunities in cup games where they are normally playing with a complete different 11 to our normal set up, they are then expected to prove themselves in them conditions. Kind of like tying someone’s shoelaces and telling them to compete in a 100m race.

    My belief is Arteta is trying to build a first 11 that wins the league from there he will introduce the odd youth player. Problem is the premier league doesn’t allow that time.

  5. In principle I couldn’t agree more with the writer. However I acknowledge that Arteta did some good things in the beginning. But now he’s driving the club to the disaster. It’s very obvious how he’s working: he trusts only “his players”, no matter how they perform. In addition to “core team players” so-called non-core team players got sometimes some minutes, but it seems to be more like using them as “show ponys”. It doesn’t matter how they perform. Like Reiss Nelson in FAC, he was the best player by distance but still he was the first player to taken out. Did he perform too well for Arteta? To question his ridiculous selections before? Introducing ESR 2min before end was next to insult. Absolute joke. Get rid of Arteta in time!

    I love Arsenal but I’m horrified where Arteta is taking the club now. R. Nelson ans ESR are coveted every club and manager in England for starter (including Man City), but not by Arteta. In addition to them there are lots of promising youngsters (who will never get any chances by Arteta). Soon all will be gone – with Arteta.

    Shortly, club is in crossroads. Do you aim for success? Or Championship football in couple of years by sticking with Arteta? Writing is on the wall, if there is anyone taking the responsibility of the club, now it’s time to act!

  6. Dawie
    Actually Nelson never set the world alight on his loans, failing to cement a starting place and other than a couple of brief flashes has underwhelmed when he has got on at Arsenal
    IMO Saka has been ineffective because he does the same thing repeatedly. He is doubled on and the issue is there is no overlap, or he doesn’t try going outside.
    He has also bought Ramsdale, Jesus White, Partey, Zinchenko Have these been disasters?
    As for ESR he has been injured long term twice during MA reign.
    Nketiah? Just how many seasons does he have to be anonymous for ?
    As for Arteta, I have never been a fan. His biggest achievement has been to clear out the poison and discontent in the squad. His playing style is simply agonising and will never win a title imo.

  7. Totally agree with AI M regarding overlapping etc.. Also the team plays better and scores more goals as a group when Tossard plays higher up towards goal as a false number 9. He not only has a better shot to goal ratio than all the other forwards, he also creates chances for the other forwards to score. Why does Arteta not see the STATs, and why does he continue to play Tossard as a left sided sub, instead of starting him ahead of Nketiah and Jesus as a near to goal false number 9, which is his best position? Either that or change tactics and buy the club a new aggressive TargetMan that can hold off defenders and create space and score 20 goals.

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