Leon Balogun makes Premier League switch to Brighton
As the World Cup approaches, many clubs around Europe will be prepared to keep an eye out for potential stars across the competition. As reported by African Football, however, Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion have struck while the iron is hot by signing Nigerian defender Leon Balogun on a free transfer.
Balogun, 29, has signed for the Seagulls on a two-year deal after being made available for a free transfer by former club FSV Mainz. Brighton manager Chris Hughton was clearly delighted by the move as he sung Leon’s praises in response to the news. “I am delighted to welcome Leon to the club. He will add more depth to our defensive options, and I am pleased to get our first piece of business done so early in the summer. He is in the peak years of his career and I’m sure he will integrate well into the squad. He also has valuable experience having played in the Bundesliga, the Europa League and at international level.”
Balogun may not be the kind of household name that some Brighton fans had been hoping for, but he should prove to be a capable option at the back for Hughton’s side. Over the course of his tenure in the Bundesliga he’s been steadily improving with each and every passing year, and as we’ve seen in the past, transitioning over from Germany always seems to work better for players in the PL than coming over from any of the other big leagues in Europe. While he’s obviously going to be looked upon as potential dark horse in the Premier League, his focus won’t be on domestic football just yet. Instead, his Balogun’s attention will now turn back towards trying to break his way into the Nigerian national team’s official squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The defender has made over a dozen appearances for Nigeria since debuting back in 2014, having been born to a Nigerian father and a German mother. He has also been named to the 30-man preliminary squad for the Super Eagles, but as we all know, that’s no guarantee of an actual place in the final setup. Still, this move won’t exactly do anything to harm his chances, and Balogun is someone who seems to have developed the kind of composure which could bode extremely well for Nigeria in Russia. At the age of just 29 you could argue that his best years are still ahead of him, and when you analyse their squad as well as the group they’ve been given in the tournament, Balogun seems like a handy option for them.
Nigeria will come up against Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in their World Cup group, and you could argue that it takes the role of ‘Group of Death’ this year. Given the instability of Argentina combined with the unpredictability of the other two nations, Nigeria shouldn’t go into this summer with any kind of fear or trepidation.