Arsenal: Balogun in control of his future with European interest

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Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun is in control of his future with European clubs interested in the 21-year-old.

What’s the latest on Balogun’s transfer situation?

The Stade de Reims loanee has impressed whilst in France this season, where he has scored 18 goals in 26 Ligue 1 starts.

As a result of the New York-born striker’s performances, he has a host of top European sides interested in his services for the coming season.

According to The Athletic, the likes of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Marseille, AS Monaco and RB Leipzig are all admirers of Balogun.

The forward is said to be opposed to another loan away from the Emirates, as he spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough.

This means that unless Arsenal promote the England U21 international to the first-choice striker, which he desires, a move away from north London may be on the cards.

How has Balogun performed this season and can Arsenal keep hold of him?

When the 21-year-old stepped foot on French soil for the first time, little could have expected just how impressive he would become. Balogun, who scored just three goals in 18 appearances for Middlesbrough last season, sits just one goal behind Kylian Mbappe this season and four ahead of Lionel Messi.

The 5 foot 10 forward’s incredible rise to the highest echelon of Ligue 1 strikers has seen him ranked within the top 3% for non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes and the top 8% for non-penalty expected goals plus expected assists per 90 minutes (in relation to players in similar positions across Europe’s top five leagues over the last 365 days), as per FBref.

Stade de Reims' Folarin Balogun in action with Paris St Germain's Fabian Ruiz and Sergio Ramos

This unstoppable form has reaped praise from those within French football. Reims manager Will Still lauded the striker as “unbelievable” and a “real talent”, while Thierry Henry praised him for his “refreshing mindset” that saw him leave London for France.

As Henry explained to Prime Video, seeing an Englishman, particularly a Londoner, leave the country in search of first-team isn’t a common occurrence, but it is a testament to Balogun’s drive that he has done so.

Keeping hold of the €25m-rated (£22m) forward will be a challenge for the Gunners if he is set on being the first-choice striker next season. Despite his incredible performances in Ligue 1, it is unlikely that Balogun will unlodge Gabriel Jesus – signed for £45m in the summer – in Arsenal’s lineup.

Mikel Arteta will want to ensure that the former England U20 starlet will stay in north London when he chooses his future. Balogun, who is still yet to decide which national team to represent out of England, the United States of America and Nigeria, has two years remaining on his contract in north London in the summer.

This means that if he does force a move away from the league leaders in search of a different conquest in Europe, the Gunners should receive a hefty transfer fee for his services.

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