No let-up in pursuit of bargain Arsenal star but Serie A giants recognise major hurdle for summer deal

Folarin Balogun Reims 2023 TEAMtalk1 Credit: Alamy
Folarin Balogun Reims 2023 TEAMtalk1 Credit: Alamy

AC Milan look set to move for Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun in the summer transfer window but foresee a significant barrier to securing a deal.

The 21-year-old has been with the Gunners since 2008, spending 12 years in the youth setup. The USA-born star made his senior debut in October 2020 and has enjoyed ten first-team outings. Mikel Arteta decided to send him out on loan for the second half of last season.

And he enjoyed plenty of game time at Middlesbrough, making nine starts among 18 Championship appearances.

The England Under-21 ace bagged three goals for Boro and was again sent out on loan for 2022-2023.

And it is his current temporary spell with Ligue 1 side Reims that has started to get him noticed.

Balogun has found the net on 15 occasions and registered two assists from 25 top-flight appearances.

Reims would love to keep the starlet on board but there is no option to buy in his loan deal.

However, next summer is likely to see a flurry of activity surrounding the New York-born starlet.

Milan have an ageing frontline, with Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic a combined 77 years.

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Divock Origi is also on the books but has yet to hit the heights in Serie A. Therefore a move for the Arsenal hotshot makes sense for the Rossoneri.

A price in the region of £20m has been mooted, although that figure is likely to rise if he continues to shine.

However, Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that Milan feel it will be tough to prise Balogun away from the Emirates.

That is because he has a ‘close relationship’ with Arsenal and wants to make his mark at the club.

Arteta has summer decision over Balogun with Newcastle circling

Milan are not the only club to have been linked with the prolific marksman.

Newcastle are now able to compete with most clubs in the transfer market and have also been mentioned in connection with the forward.

Eddie Howe is keen to bring in young players who should be around for many years to continue the club’s rapid progress.

However, it may all be immaterial if the north Londoners opt to keep him beyond the off-season.

Arteta has Gabriel Jesus to lead the line, with the Brazil ace on the comeback trail after a lengthy absence.

Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah are also in the ranks. And it is open to question whether there would be a spot for Balogun if all players were fit.

The Premier League table-toppers will need to weigh up whether it would make sense to cash in on the youngster.

He is clearly a talented player and one for the future having proved himself in the French top flight.

And having invested so much time in the man with seven England Under-21 goals, it would be galling for Arsenal to see him shine elsewhere.

Another loan move may well be in the offing but Milan look set to test that special relationship he has with the Gunners.

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