Folarin Balogun set to set Arsenal on fire


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This is a situation that probably few people expected, including in north London. Trained at Hale End, the Arsenal Academy, Folarin Balogun (21) has always been considered a great hope for the Gunners and English football. Faced with competition and the lack of visibility available to him at the Gunners, the one who had spent the last six months of the 2021-2022 season on loan at Middlesbrough (Championship) for a total of 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 appearances, Balogun was sent to Ligue 1 this year to continue to toughen up in the professional world, in the form of a dry loan at Stade de Reims.

The English Espoirs international (11 caps, 6 goals) is a hit and caused a sensation in the colors of the Champagne club. If the men of Will Still are rather quiet compared to the red zone and the maintenance, it is largely thanks to Folarin Balogun, who confirmed his excellent start to the season in France. Author of 14 achievements in 21 league days, the New York native leads the scoring charts in our Ligue 1, ahead of a certain Kylian Mbappé and Alexandre Lacazette. Balogun even has the almost goals/match ratio as the Bondynois of PSG (0.67, 2nd best score in L1, against 0.69 for KM7), against whom he snatched the equalizer.

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Arsenal at a crossroads for their young striker

In France, he does better than Mbappé, Messi and Neymar “, ignites the BBC to Her Majesty’s Kingdom over the player on loan from the Gunners. Arsenal, precisely, will find themselves facing a big headache next summer. What will Mikel Arteta and Edu, sporting director of the London club, decide to do with Folarin Balogun? Because the young striker, when he returns home, will only have two years left on his contract. Should he be included in the Arsenal squad, where Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah are already struggling at the front? Should we lend it again or would it be wiser to sell it to pocket a nice check?

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This is what Londoners will have to tackle in the coming months for Balogun, who has proven himself in a competitive championship with his speed, his off-ball game and his intelligence on the field. According to our information, Arsenal was clear with Reims when concluding this deal: he is scheduled to return to Arsenal and impose himself there. Which could also well be the will of the main concerned, who remains very attached to his training club. Mikel Arteta in any case welcomed the fate of his striker loaned to Champagne, Friday at a press conference.

I am very happy for him. He is a boy who has a very clear idea of ​​what he wants to do with his career. He is very ambitious, very involved and very courageous. We talked a lot before he made this choice, to know if it was the right place to go and to know the other choices available to him. He was so convinced. I am really happy for him because he deserves what is happening to him. When you look at the numbers and what he does, it’s just amazing. It’s very rare to see this. But he has something special, that’s why we decided to give him a long contract, to have faith in him and to give him this long period that he needs now, because the loan he has today is really different to what he had before at Middlesbrough. »

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Reims will try to keep Balogun but…

The SDR, through the voice of its president, still explained that it was going to try its luck at the end of the season to keep the talented striker, without having too many illusions either. ” I think it’s impossibleblew Jean-Pierre Caillot on the airwaves of France Blue Champagne-Ardenne on February 3. The rules of the game are very clear: these are boys who, when they join us, know that they are there to reveal themselves and this is a stage for them. So even if I don’t decide for him, either Folarin will return to his club Arsenal to have his chance, or he will be loaned out again or even transferred to a very high level club. He is a player who must go even higher. So obviously, we will ask the question to him, who feels good here, and to his club, but I think that today he will have to take a step. So, we are already working on the future “Balogun” the day he will leave the club. But hey, if he and his club agree to do another year at Stade de Reims, we will do everything to make it happen. »

While waiting to find out if this Thierry Henry fan will return to the Emirates Stadium to amaze Gunners supporters like the former glory at No. 14, the Rémois can only benefit from the services of a player to whom everything, or almost, has succeeded since his arrival in France. The 2023-2024 pre-season could well be important for Arsenal, who are also announced to be looking for an additional striker for the next summer transfer window. What cool the ardor of Folarin Balogun or burn his wings? The future will tell.

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