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After a frustrating spell on loan at Middlesbrough, those at Arsenal will be delighted with Folarin Balogun’s start to life at Reims. The 21-year-old joined the Ligue 1 side on loan in the summer and has scored five goals in eight appearances – only three players have scored more, and two of those are Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Balogun struggled for consistent starts in England’s second tier, but he is now rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best talents in Ligue 1 and is showing that he belongs. On top of his five goals, Balogun also has two assists, making it seven goal contributions in eight appearances.
Ultimately, it made sense for Balogun to go out on loan again this season, as the England under-21s striker would have been behind Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order. However, if he continues to score goals at his current rate, then he may give Mikel Arteta a tough decision to make next summer.
The American-born forward may be deemed good enough for a full season of Premier League action if he continues to have the same impact in Ligue 1 for the rest of his loan spell. Balogun has already revealed that he intends on breaking into the Arsenal first-team next term.
“I’m at the age where it’s really important to be playing regularly,” Balogun told BBC. “This season it was important to choose a team where I knew I was able to play and show what I can do.
“The ideal scenario would be to play well and go back into the Arsenal first team. But I’m aware it will never be easy. Football is never as easy as you think, I just have to stay humble and what see what happens.”
If he’s not deemed ready for a season of Premier League football, then Balogun may be sent out on another loan to develop his game further. While another loan move may frustrate Balogun, you only need to look at William Saliba to realise how beneficial multiple loan spells can be.
Saliba has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League this season, grasping his opportunity with both hands after spending time on loan with Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille. Former Gunners goalkeeper David Seaman has suggested that more players should follow Saliba’s pathway into the Arsenal first-team – and Balogun could be one of those who does.
“Saliba has really shocked me because it just shows you how going out on loan works,” Seaman told The Express.
“He’s been out on loan for a few seasons, got really good experience and when you watch him now, you think he must be about 27 because he looks so confident.”