Thursday, December 8, 2022

Balogun reveals Pepe role in his Reim-aissance

Folarin Balogun continues to impress for Ligue 1 side Reims and with eight goals in 14 appearances is closing in on a target set for him by Nicolas Pepe, who is also on loan in France.

The England under-21 international moved across the Channel in the summer to gain more experience of senior football and has turned a few heads with his predatory nature in the penalty box.

As things stand, he’s ahead of Lionel Messi in the scoring charts, level with former teammate Alex Lacazette and within sniffing distance of Jonathan David, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Reflecting on the decision to move to Reims, he told the Ligue 1 website: “I spoke with Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. It was Nicolas who set me the goal of scoring 10 goals. He told me that it would be not bad for a start in Ligue 1 and that I had the qualities to play in France.

I had spoken of 10 goals and, even if I am not very far from it, we must remain humble. I still need two more to reach 10 goals. I prefer to concentrate on the match to come and, if I reach 10 goals, I will revise my objective upwards. But I’m not there yet, everything in its time.”

Balogun made his Premier League debut in the 2-0 defeat to Brentford on the opening day of last season and readily accepts it was a chastening experience. Now playing regular football, even more than when he was on loan with Middlesbrough in the second half of last season, he’s now well aware of what he needs to do to improve.

“I know I’m fast and I’m able to resist contact, so the most important thing for me is really the timing,” he said.

“If you leave at the right time, no one can stop you. I also need to be more effective in front of goal, more of a killer. I have to be able to complete actions in all possible ways: left, right and head. It was a priority for me and I’m pretty happy because this season I’ve already scored with my head, my right foot and my left foot! It shows that the work pays and that I have to continue like this.”

On the decision to move to Reims, he said: “I had several leads in England, France and Germany. When my agent told me that Reims was interested in me, I saw it as an opportunity. I have always liked to take risks. I am not someone who plays it safe.

“The easiest solution would have been to stay in England, in the country I know, with my family and my friends, and that is what they encouraged me to do. But that didn’t appeal to me. I really wanted to test myself, get out of my comfort zone and see how I would react to a new challenge. I regret nothing.”

While we know Folarin has struggled a little with French since his move, we’ll be gutted if we find out he didn’t sign off with “je ne regrette rien”.

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Flo’s full interview is worth a read, see here. 

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IamsterdamGooner

I think every young person, not only pro football players, should go out and experience other cultures/languages/customs etc. I rather have a loanee playing regular at the bottom/mid in say Portugal/France/Holland, then occasionally at the bottom of the Prem. And i think Balogun will come good for us! Just needs to keep doing what hes doing. First season in Ligue 1 at his age to be amongst those names is not to be sniffed at, and plenty of game time to improve still.

C.B.

Would love him to be successful and come back and challenge next season. We definitely need someone with his physicality.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Southgate should have made him the Walcott of 2022.

Eric Blair

Millions of young Brits did just that, but now Brexit has screwed them!

PGunner

He’s doing great and seems pretty grounded, yet confident all the same. I hope we can integrate him into the squad next season. Any striker who gets 20 odd goals (which is what he’s tracking for) in a top league, has got something about em! Keep it going Flo

Jeremy

I really want Flo to come good and I think he’s been managed/advised well. Also shout out to NP for setting targets and playing a part to further our talents. His form has also picked up at Nice so it would be good to recoup some value on him.

Boy Bastin

It looks that we’ve another “Saliba” type loan success on our hands, doesn’t it. Hopefully, if he keeps this up, he’ll be able to return and translate some of his terrific form into goals in the PL (albeit in a rather tougher league overall than Ligue 1). Good luck to him.

A Different George

I hope so, of course, but I think there’s a different ceiling. Balogun from what I have seen could very well become a regular for a Champions League side in the Premier League–hopefully Arsenal. That’s a fantastic result. But Saliba might–might–become one of the best defenders in the world. Really.

Beef

I had been worried about overhyping Saliba by comparing him to Maldini/Beckenbauer/Tony Adams but what I really should have been worried about was overhyping other young arsenal loanees by comparing them to Saliba. Which is the bigger gap? 😉

karl

Arsenal’s top scorer and a natural. He really needed a season of games that would not have come in the Premier League.

Joy

Playing regularly, Balogun and Patino will be two very welcome additions to the squad next season.

Badaab

coach pepe!

Savage

For me the key factor with young strikers is team awareness. If they can lift their heads and feed into the team flow, then they’ll have a good career. From a young age you could see that Iwobi, ESR and Saka had that, while Akpom, JET, Sanogo didn’t. Even as a striker, you can’t be a glory boy – you have to create connections with team mates to even receive service. For me the jury is still out with Nketiah on that front – I want him to get a lot more involved in the interplay, the give-and-go.

Badaab

likely that will come with experience, and if we persist with eddie as second choice beyond this season we might see some of it (or faster if he’s watching and training with jesus)

RockyRog58

Great experience for Flo & he’s grabbing attention with his performances. Would like Eddie to flourish in the same way if he can ? Admittedly he has the harder job playing in such a strong league with an absolute superstar ahead of him in the pecking order. As fans we can help ! The kids getting 15 – 20 minutes here & there & playing with the “wannabes” in the B team Last year he asked for a run of games. He got them & went in a bit of a roll. We look and think ” he’s not the… Read more »

RockyRog58

Or even “on” a bit of a roll !!

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