Monday, April 22, 2024

“Ready for a new challenge” – Balogun open to loan move

Folarin Balogun says he’s open to a loan move in January and believes regular first team football will help him improve.

Handed the task of leading the attack for England under-21s against the Czech Republic on Thursday, the striker duly opened his account for the Young Lions before declaring “he’s ready for a new challenge.”

Earlier in the week, Lee Carsley, head coach of England under-21s, had suggested that academy football, the level at which Balogun has played most of his football this season, was probably too easy for the youngster.

“I feel like I am ready for a new challenge,” the 20-year-old told reporters after the 3-1 win.

“I feel like I have played youth football for a while. I have scored goals at that level and improved at that level drastically compared to now. At the same time I am not sure what that challenge might be.

“It might be a loan, or if I am needed at Arsenal I am here and the gaffer knows that as well. I feel like I am definitely open to a new challenge, wherever it is I will be ready.

“As a striker and as a young player you need minutes. It is the best way to learn and get consistency.”

While Balogun is clearly keen to make an impact at the Emirates, he also recognises that breaking into the first team is a gradual process.

“I speak to Emile [Smith Rowe] and Bukayo [Saka] a lot,” he said. “They tell me to be patient. They tell me it is not an overnight thing, which it hasn’t been for them. It would be naive for me to think that.

“You just have to keep practising, then you see the rewards and when you are ready you will take the opportunity.

“I know I am not at the level I want to be, but I know the performances I am putting in. I know I am going in the right direction.”

While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s participation in the African Cup of Nations will see Balogun edge closer to first team action in the new year, that small window of opportunity probably shouldn’t come at the expense of his long-term development. A loan makes sense although at this point, nothing is set in stone.

“I would like to get minutes at Arsenal,” he said. “I am not sure what his [Arteta’s] plans are.

“We did speak prior to me signing my contract and he said I should trust in him and that he has a plan for me. That was a big reason I stayed and decided to resign.

“I wouldn’t say I know his plan, per se, but there is a plan and I have spoken about it with various people at Arsenal.

“I have complete faith in the gaffer and yeah, I feel like whatever the plan is I will give 100 per cent and it will work out as it has done the rest of my career.”

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Obviously we’d all love him to be getting minutes with us and scoring goals but I’d rather he was elsewhere, building confidence and gaining knowledge than getting stuck on the bench. As long as we keep him in the long term.

Johnny 4 Hats

Maybe it makes sense having Eddie around in this case. He can be back up while Flo gets some experience in January. Man, it’s so hard being a young CF. They need to be prolific from the get go. And so few have the luck to immediately make it work. Still not sure I can see Flo leading the line for us. Would love it to happen but if we spend big on a CF in the summer, he’s still behind Auba and the new signing. And I get his comments. He could be playing week in, week out in… Read more »


I hope he re-signed rather than resigned.

Man Manny

This guy should have gone on loan the moment it became clear Nketiah was staying.
Another error by the technical crew, I must say.
They have an opportunity in January; I hope they don’t mess it up.
Get the chap out on loan!


Actually, having 6 months to be around the first team is not a completely useless experience. It’s a good opportunity to get to know the players, the senior staff, feel the spirit in match days, etc.
If he now goes on loan for the rest of the season, I’d say I’m fine with it.

Teryima Adi

Patience is a virtue, Balogun. Your time we come, son.

Bai Blagoi

It is not good when a player directly tells the press “I wouldn’t say I know his plan”


As a youth player, it would be strange if he knew Arteta’s plans. I’m just glad he has confidence in it, that it was enough to make him stay and that there’s open communication between the two. He could take 3 years to develop and still be the youngest striker in the (hopefully by then?) top 4. We’ve got time and he seems comfortable with that.

Cliff Bastin

Remember AMN’S outburst?

Wrighty’s hats

I get what you mean, it is a little weird on the PR front to have a young player sign a new contract and then say to the media that he’s not exactly sure of what the plan is for his own development. Might have possibly been the way the question was put to him. He does seem to know to a certain extent, as he talks about needing to keep working as hard as he can and take his chances in the senior squad when they come up. Good to hear that he has trust in MA and he’s… Read more »

Reiss Neverseen & the DicTeta

Definitely agree. This isn’t the first time that one of our squad players has implied something like this either. At this point it has to be deliberate from the management


He needs a loan to a championship club. A lower prem club might not gamble on him and he may just warm a bench on a team fighting relegation as they see him as a risk. That will be his next step. The Arsenal first team is too big a jump straight away.


Regular minutes is the most important thing. He definitely needs a stepping stone elsewhere to progress and prove he’s ready. The problem is, as an out an out striker, he can’t really get a regular cameo roles on the wing, and leading the line is too big a responsibility for Arteta to gamble on. If Lacazette goes in the summer, we 100% need to sign a striker unless Balogun can prove himself… but he isn’t going to do that playing youth football, and even championship football might mean he’s not proven enough to be Auba’s understudy. Ideally, he would be… Read more »

Mesut O’Neill

Maybe you should complete your first challenge of breaking into the Arsenal first team before looking for a new challenge.

Santi's Thigh Grab

Let me see if I can explain this to you. He has already broken into the first team through signing his professional contract. The first team is big, several players do not play regularly, ie Chambers, Kola, et al, this is how professional football works, not everyone gets to play regularly. He now wants to take the next step, to play regularly so he can improve as a player and maybe get more playing time when he returns to the Arsenal. Hope that helps.

Cliff Bastin

Do not let this man go.


Well I won’t believe anything until that doyen of recycled fantasy speculation Football.London reports it and it then gets repeated by Just Arsenal News, etc etc etc…

Timorous Me

Sounds like he has a good attitude these days. Surely it doesn’t hurt that the team is doing better and the vibes within the clubs are positive–and that we have multiple success stories from young players coming through the academy for players like Balogun to look up to.


Some of the headlines on Newsnow really enjoyed misrepresenting his quotes


Got to look at someone like Connor Gallagher in Flo’s case. Two championship loans followed by two prem ones, now an England call up. We can of course hope he never actually plays for Chelsea, but the loan moves have clearly helped him into an international quality footballer, which would have never happened warning the bench.


‘I warn you, bench, for the last time…’

A Different George

I think one of the most important things for him is the *example* of Saka and Smith Rowe, not some theory about whether Arteta plays young players or whether the “plan” involves going on loan, or whatever. He knows how good he is compared to them, how far he has to go, and he knows that he will get his chance, just as they did.

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