Folarin Balogun has received a ringing endorsement from Arsenal legend Thierry Henry for his decision to choose Ligue 1 as the place to go to develop on loan.
Balogun is spending the 2022-23 season on loan with Reims in the French top flight. It is his second spell away from Arsenal, who sent him to Middlesbrough for the last six months of last season.
He managed three goals from 20 appearances during his stint with Middlesbrough. He has already outscored that tally with Reims, amassing five goals from his first six appearances.
It seems this could be the spell that the 21-year-old has really needed to begin to unlock his potential. And he is doing so in the view of an Arsenal legend who is singing his praises.
According to Thierry Henry – who has more than 200 goals for Arsenal to his name – Balogun deserves praise for his decision to test himself outside English football. In turn, he is adding further attributes to his game that were lacking before.
Henry told Amazon Prime Video Sport: “I’m really happy for him because in general English players don’t go abroad. Normally players are loaned either to another Premier League side or in the Championship.
“He’s a very English-style player who likes to run down the channels but he was missing something, which was his finishing.
“He’s now starting to score goals regularly and I’m happy for that – happy he has gone abroad. It’s especially so considering he is a Londoner; in general Londoners struggle to leave London.
“When I heard he was coming to France, it made me think he has a refreshing mindset.”
Balogun is under contract with Arsenal until 2025. Therefore, he will be hoping to use that time to develop his skills further in order to become first-team ready.
Back at the Emirates Stadium, Mikel Arteta can currently call upon the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli in Balogun’s centre-forward position.
In time, Balogun could be a contender for a place too. But it certainly seems like Reims is the best club for him to be at for now.
They are up against Toulouse in a Ligue 1 match on Sunday afternoon, with Balogun among the starting lineup.
Does Folarin Balogun have an Arsenal future?
Having already matched his goal tally for Arsenal’s first team and Middlesbrough combined with Reims, Folarin Balogun seems to be on the verge of a breakthrough.
But can he make the grade as and when he returns to the fold at Arsenal? Much will depend on how long he can keep this current vein of form up for.
At this rate, he is well on course to hit double figures of goals. With that in mind, he is someone Arsenal could make the most of in future.
They have shown patience with players out on loan before. For example, it took William Saliba three spells away before he could make his debut for the club, who are now enjoying his talents.
There is no rush for the 21-year-old Balogun, either. But he will be an interesting option for them to consider going forward, especially with Martinelli playing more on the wing these days.
It means there could eventually be room for Balogun to fight for his place along with Jesus and Nketiah. For now, he must focus on his commitments with Reims in order to bring the best out of himself.
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