This article is part of Football League World’s ‘What does the future hold?’ series, this content strand is where we evaluate and subjectively debate a player’s future at their current club…
Leon Balogun has made quite an impact on Wigan Athletic since his arrival at the DW Stadium earlier this year.
After being one of three players – along with Brighton teammate Jan Mlakar and Bournemouth’s Alex Dobre – to complete an eleventh-hour loan move to the Latics on deadline day of the January window, Balogun had initially been made to wait for his chance in Paul Cook’s side.
Having missed Wigan’s first two games following his arrival, a red card for fellow centre back Chey Dunkley just past the hour-mark in a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough saw Balogun brought off the bench for his debut for the Latics, and he has hardly looked back since.
Following that introduction against ‘Boro, Balogun has been an ever-present in the Latics’ backline, helping them to go undefeated in their last five games, conceding just two goals in the process, and none in their last four outings.
The three wins – including a stunning 1-0 win at then-league leaders West Brom – and two draws they have collected during that run with Balogun at the heart of their defence, have also been enough to lift Paul Cook’s side out of the Championship relegation zone for the time being.
As a result, with the Nigerian having played a key part in Wigan’s recent resurgence, you could certainly understand if the Latics were to look to keep Balogun at the club beyond the end of the season, and it seems they may have a chance of doing that.
With Balogun’s contract with Brighton set to expire at the end of this season, and considering he has made just eight league appearances for the Seagulls since his move to the AMEX Stadium from Mainz in the summer of 2018, it does seem as though there may not be much future for Balogun on that particular part of the south coast.
Consequentially, the centre back may well already be considering a permanent move away from Brighton when the transfer window reopens at the end of the season, something Wigan may well be in prime position to take advantage of.
Given it appears Balogun is settling into life at the DW Stadium well, and with the knowledge that he stands a good chance of playing regular football is he stays with Wigan beyond the end of the season, having already done that for them in the current campaign, it seems as though an extended deal with the Latics could be an attractive prospect for the 31-year-old.
However, one concern here for Wigan when it comes to securing Balogun’s services on a permanent basis, is the attention he may now be attracting from elsewhere.
Having impressed for Wigan in the past month or so, and with his contract situation at Brighton meaning he ought to be available on the cheap, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if some other Championship clubs were to start taking an interest in Balogun in the next few months.
Should that be the case, things could start to get difficult for Wigan here, if some of their divisional rivals are able to offer a better potential deal to Balogun than they are, and it is worth remembering that it is still far from certain that the Latics will avoid relegation to League One this season, with a drop into League One only likely to make it even harder for them to keep Balogun, both for footballing and financial reasons.
Taking all that into consideration, it seems that while Balogun is destined for the exit door at Brighton come the summer, there is still no guarantee that his future beyond lies at the DW Stadium.
Given what he has done since his arrival there, however, Wigan will surely hope that it does.