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Balogun Keen To Earn Starting Spot At Brighton

Balogun Keen To Earn Starting Spot At Brighton

Nigeria international Leon Balogun is determined to win a starting place at Brighton ahead of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

The defender, 30, has only made seven starts for the Premier League club since his arrival as a free agent from Germany in May 2018.


“It’s been difficult but that’s the manager’s call, I’ve just got to get on with it and hope for a chance,” says Balogun, who scored his only goal for the club in a 3-1 win over rivals Crystal Palace in December.

“I really hope to play a significant role in my first Nations Cup for Nigeria, but firstly I want to keep working hard to make a strong case for regular games at Brighton,” Balogun told BBC Sport.

Zenith Ziva

Since scoring his first goal for Brighton four months ago, Balogun has made only four more appearances for Chris Hughton’s side in the league.

He also played twice in the club’s impressive run to the FA Cup semi-finals including the tricky fourth round victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in February.

For a player who features regularly for his country and is highly revered by fans back home, Balogun admitted it has been a tough time waiting for his opportunity.

“It’s very frustrating not to be involved but you can only keep your head up by focusing on helping the club when called upon,” the former Mainz man told BBC Sport.

“What is important is to always put myself in the right place as usual. If I am needed anytime to start a game or come in, I’ll be ready for that, it’s all I can do.”

Back in December he became the first African player in the English Premier League to join the Common Goal campaign by pledging 1% of his wages to charity.

Born in Germany, Balogun, who has previously played for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Darmstadt 98, has made 27 appearances for Nigeria.

He played all three matches at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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  • I will be surprised to see Balogun as a Brighton player next season because it doesn’t look good for Nigeria’s best central defender (in the eyes of many) to be playing 3rd fiddle to the duo of Irish international Shane Duffy and 1 cap England international Lewis Dunk.

    To be honest, when I see these 2 underwhelming central defenders play, I can see why Balogun will not be able to break into that central partnership in a hundred years.

    Both are firm, positionally highly disciplined, tactically aware, sturdy with good starting positions and far more advanced abilities to read the game and make decent interceptions.

    They have the ability to organize their defense and be imposing in a manner that instil confidence.

    Balogun, whilst possessing all these skills and attributes, does not possess enough of them (at least in the eyes of coach Chris Houghton) to leapfrog any of Shane or Lewis to the starting position unless either is suspended or injured.

    Coming to his 30s, it will be good for Balogun to find himself where he can play football regularly for experience his what would stand him in good stead in seasons to come as he would not be able to rely on his youth and speed (which has already diminished anyway).

    Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk are not world class defenders by any stretch however in them I see what some of our central defenders are missing in the way of skills, attributes and capabilities.