Folarin Balogun may have slipped down the Ligue 1 scoring charts in the last couple of weeks, but the fact he’s even in the conversation alongside some of the biggest names in French football is remarkable.
Chased by clubs across Europe in the summer, many were surprised when the England under-21 international opted to spend the current season at Stade de Reims in France. The aim was to build on a loan spell with Middlesbrough, get more experience in senior football and maybe bag a few goals.
Nicolas Pepe, himself on loan with Nice, set Balogun a 10-goal target and the young Gunner reached that total before the break for the World Cup. He’s since bagged six further goals, including a stoppage-time equaliser at the Parc des Princes to alert the continent to his burgeoning talent.
What’s more, under 30-year-old English coach Will Still, Reims are now unbeaten in 16 games and sit comfortably in ninth place in Ligue 1. All in all, things couldn’t be going better for Balogun, who seems to be the only person not surprised by the way things are playing out.
“It’s a special, special season that’s happening right now,” he told Canal+.
“When I look back on my time in France, I’ll realise that this was something really special, I’ll appreciate it a lot more when the season is over. My feeling right now is that I’m very, very happy here.”
It remains to be seen what Mikel Arteta plans to do with Balogun in the summer, but the fact he’s proving he can shoulder the responsibility of leading an attack at just 21 suggests he has a bright future.
I had a interesting sit down with Canal + – Go and have a look 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/x33AWzbGPY
— Balogun (@balogun) March 10, 2023
“It’s not a surprise because I also have a lot of belief in myself and I also have a lot of confidence,” says the striker.
“I try to carry the confidence with me to all these places [the big teams]. When we played away at Paris, it was a very, very different experience for me because the stadium was so beautiful, the atmosphere, the ambience was very nice.
“At the end of the day, I know the level I’m capable of playing at so when I can, I like to prove I’m capable, so it’s good.
He added: “My mentality is just to prove that I’m capable. A lot of people might be surprised by the numbers that I’m putting up now but when I look back, even in the youth teams, I’ve always been the highest scorer.
“For me, it’s not a surprise. It’s just a case of maybe showing other people around the world what I’m capable of. This is why I’m able to stay focused and also quite calm.”
With 12 matches remaining, you wouldn’t bet against Balogun reaching the 20-goal milestone.
Looking good, can see him coming back and progressing further. How many would take him over Eddie or can they both play enough and contribute if Jesus is fit?
Arteta will be watching Flo very closely, no doubt. But is he seeing cheap goals in a mediocre league or an instinctive striker beginning to show his prowess? And how does Arteta really feel about Nketiah? Does he believe he’s a 25 goal-a-season guy who is at the beginning of his journey or a stop gap striker that does a job? And then, back on Flo, how much does he want to make it at Arsenal? Does he bleed red and white or is he a career footballer looking for his best path to being a starting number 9 at… Read more »
Trossard is much older and not really a striker, even if he can do a job there in small stints. I think with Champions League football there will be place in the squad for all three strikers. It only takes one injury and then you’re down to two, and at that point you definitely don’t want to play just one of them twice a week and need an option from the bench either way.
Plus both Jesus and Flo can also play on the wing.
Other top premier league clubs CF’s: City – Haaland and Alvares Liverpool – Darwin and Bobby United – Weghorst and Martial Tottenham – Kane and Richarlison Chelsea – Auba and Broja Chelsea are actually a good example because Havertz plays CF. How much game time do Chelsea – a champions league club – give Broja? No other team in the premier league operate with three proven strikers. And given that we need to strengthen in other areas, I do think it’s madness to hang onto a £40m asset and risk tanking their value and their reputation. Trossard is just fine… Read more »
Isn’t broja out injured all season
How dare you use knowledge of football to make me look silly!
I think it’s a stretch to call Eddie and Balogun “proven strikers” after barely a season of playing well at top level. They’re both very promising but at this stage of their careers they’re exactly the sort of players you want backing up your main first choice striker. After next season would be the time to sell one of them, whichever one it is that hasn’t been getting opportunities and prefers to move on. Then you either buy another promising youngster or promote from the academy, or you buy a world class one and the other two become the backups.… Read more »
We are playing tomorrow with Jesus, Nketiah and Trossard all missing. That is utterly unprecedented – first, second and third choice all out. It will likely never happen again for a decade.
And we are ok. We move a few players around. We play to our available players strengths.
I dunno. I don’t think you need like-for-like replacements if you have a strong squad and a creative manager.
So for you, Rashford is not in the conversation as a CF, loool.
Balogun is under contract until summer 2025.
He’s not going to sign a new contract if he comes back to spend most of the matches on the bench. Then Arsenal will have to sell him in 2024 to avoid losing him for free the following year.
I’d love him to see him succeed as an Arsenal player, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he’s sold at the end of this season for the reason above.
Regardless of who plays, all three need to be kept. We cannot compete in 4 competitions each season if we don’t have 3 quality strikers! There’ll be plenty of chances for all of them.
This is elite mentalitg. We must keep him around. His physicals are already better than Nketiah in my eyes. He has a place here for sure.
If he’d good enough for the under 30 then he’s good for the first team!
Keep on banging in the goals. Your best days have just begun, son.
I think Son’s best days are behind him.
He’s won so many trophies for his club, a proven PL great…
I think you’ve forgotten his FIFA Puskás Award in 2020, something the grandkids will never let him forget.
Totally, don’t want to hear Sprs fans boasting about winning a cup.
“Balogun” actually means “chaos” in Hebrew. Can definitely see him causing Arteta’s team selection process to be thrown into chaos next season
Balogun is a Yoruba name, and it means Warlord!
That of course is evident in his his numbers.
Fair enough, probably a more apt word to describe him.
You’d probably spell it “balagan” anyway if you were to use latin alphabet for the hebrew word, but thought it was amusing as it’s pretty much pronounced the same
What a man. Good for our team or worth £40m+ in the summer. Win win.
For next season, we will need 3 centre forwards to compete on different fronts. Eddie, Flo and Jesus are all excellent players – my one concern is that they are all very similar: fast, skilful, good in tight spaces, 5’9″-5’11”. So in terms of having a consistent approach across maybe 60 games, the three of them would work very well. The problem comes when teams park the bus, as we cannot switch to Plan B, a slower but still skilful target man in the Giroud (or for older fans, Alan Smith) mould. However, would 4 centre forwards get enough game… Read more »
I’ll just quote something I’ve learned in another thread here the other day:
Kiwior is tall
Now that would be quite a change of position – makes switching White from CB to RB and Xhaka from DM to AM look easy!
Kiwi holds the door! Kiwiholdoor! Kiwihodor! Kiwihor! Kiwior!
Kiwior is tall.
We need 6 forwards next season across four competitions. Jesus, Martinelli and Saka are the nailed on starters. The competitors for those three other positions are Eddie, Balogun, Nelson, ESR and Trossard. Nelson’s contract should be extended, loaned and then find him a permanent club. ESR could potentially play left 8 and then there is room for Eddie, Flo and Leo. But if ESR is going to stay in the forward line, Eddie should be sold IMO. Trossard is an Arsenal style player as is ESR, can play in tight spaces pinging the ball, but Eddie is the odd man… Read more »
Way better than nketiah who quite frankly needs to be sold
I’d start ESR on the left tomorrow and keep Reiss for the later stages of the game. His speed and directness is a big worry for a tiring defence.
Meanwhile, Liverpool has just been beaten 0-1 by Bournemouth. To think that the goal came in the first half, it’s amazing how they’ve been able to keep a forward line that scored seven times six days ago at bay. It makes our comeback win over them even more impressive.
*wrong place. Meant for the news on injuries.
How about ESR as a false 9? Strong, good in the air as well as with a great eye for goal from the edge of the box? Has a solid understanding with Saka, Martinelli and Nelson, despite being out injured for a while, to feed from the wings.
Lol this guy could barely get into a Middlesborough side last year and he thinks it’s not a surprise he’s tearing up Ligue 1. Could’ve fooled me!
I think Reims are on an 18 games unbeaten run now, not 16.