Stade de Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot thinks it’s “impossible” for Reims to sign Folarin Balogun on a permanent basis but he’ll have a conversation with Arsenal about retaining the striker on loan.
The England under-21 international has been a revelation in France, netting 15 goals in 23 appearances to share top spot in Ligue 1 scoring charts.
Sent to gain further experience of senior football following six months at Middlesbrough, Balogun’s performances, including goal-scoring cameos against the league’s top sides, have alerted clubs across the continent to his qualities.
As a consequence, Caillot knows he faces stiff competition in the summer when Arsenal weigh up the next step in the player’s career.
“I think [signing him permanently] is impossible,” he told France Bleu.
“These are boys who, when they join us, know that they are there to showcase themselves and this is a stage for them.
“So even if I don’t decide [his future] for him, either Folarin will return to his club Arsenal to have his chance, or he will be loaned out again or even transferred to a very high level club. He is a player who must go even higher.
“Obviously, we’ll ask the question to his club [about another loan], we know he feels good here, but today, I think he will make a step up.
“We are already working on the ‘next Balogun’ for the day he leaves the club. But hey, if he and his club agree to do another year at Stade de Reims, we will do everything to make it happen.”
As loan moves go, this has, so far, been incredibly successful for Balogun. That said, he’d do well to heed the lessons learnt by Reiss Nelson who impressed at Hoffenheim in 2018/19 but struggled badly on his return.
In fairness, there were mitigating factors for Reiss, not least having to deal with a new coach on his return, a series of injuries and stiff competition in his position, but it’s a warning that a footballer’s formative steps are not always a constant upwards trajectory.