Journalist and transfer insider Pete O’Rourke believes Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun – currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Reims – will be hoping for first-team opportunities when he returns to North London this summer.
Whilst his parent club are embroiled in an epic title race with Manchester City, the 21-year-old has enjoyed an breakthrough season in northern France, scoring 18 goals and registering three assists as Reims sit eighth in Ligue 1.
How well is Balogun performing at Reims?
Balogun’s impressive performances in France have not gone unnoticed by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta who has hailed him as “really ambitious, really committed and really brave.”
The 5 foot 8 marksman has outscored Lionel Messi in the league and is just two goals behind PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe.
His goalscoring exploits are no fluke, as shown by him ranking in the top 4% for non-penalty xG per 90, and his movement is illustrated by him being in the 90th percentile for progressive passes received per 90 – both compared to his positional peers in Europe’s big 5 leagues.
What has O’Rourke said about Balogun?
On the £17.5m-rated star’s future, the journalist said:
“He can only have been impressed with Balogun.
“It’s a move that’s worked out for all parties this one. He’s gone out from Arsenal to Reims and scored a lot of goals and had a really productive season in Ligue 1.
“So that can only benefit the player and Arsenal. I’m sure the player will come back this summer and will be hoping to be offered more first-team opportunities with the Gunners because he’s had that taste of it in France.
“So he will be hoping that Mikel Arteta will include him in his plans for next season. If he’s not in his plans, and more players do arrive up front, it will increase competition for places and maybe push him down the pecking order, so he’ll have to consider his future them.”
What does the future hold for Balogun?
It is unlikely anyone will displace Gabriel Jesus as Arsenal’s first-choice striker but fellow youngster Eddie Nketiah has enjoyed opportunities to impress this campaign, stepping in when the Brazilian suffered injury and featuring heavily in the Europa League.
With the club back in the Champions League next season there will be a lot of games for Arteta to contend with, and therefore opportunities for Balogun if he can force ahead of Nketiah in the pecking order and the Gunners don’t bring in reinforcements in that area in the transfer window.
Coming off the back of such an impressive season however, the former Middlesbrough man is unlikely to hang around too long without regular first-team football.