What’s Next for Folarin Balogun?

Ligue One side Reims has been a team that has drawn a lot of attention this season. This is mostly due to the fact they have a relatively unknown English Manager in Will Still, who took over as caretaker in the role before going on a great winning run. Still does not yet have the coaching badges in order to take on the role full-time, so much so that the club has to pay a fine every time he is in charge of a game. But it has proved to be a price they are willing to pay as he has performed so well.

 

Folarin Balogun: What Should We Expect

One of the big things that are adding to this success is the brilliant form of Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun. The younger has been at the club this season and has a great goal-to-game ratio. He has been unfortunate not to get much game time at Arsenal, despite playing in the opening fixture of the 2021-22 season, a loss to newly promoted Brentford. So, he went out to France in the hope of getting more game time and showing he has what it takes, which is just what he has done. Currently, soccer odds on Canadian sportsbook Bodog position Balogun at +1200 on the top goalscorer board for France Ligue 1 2022/2023.

The youngster is eligible to play for England, America and Nigeria, having been born in New York and having Nigerian parents. However, he has played in the England Youth set-up and now looks to be called up to the national team. Once a player has played in a competitive international game they can no longer switch international allegiance.

This is something England manager Gareth Southgate is always aware of and has played players before they would otherwise get a call-up to ensure that they are cemented as an England player. Balogun looks to be the next player England should try this method with to ensure that he remains an England player and hopefully grow into a big part of the future team. Very soon, Balogun will have to make a big decision about his international future.

As well as going out on loan to Reims, Balogun spent time on loan at Middlesborough last season in order to get more game time. He impressed in his spell there but it still wasn’t enough to earn him a regular spot in the arsenal time, with the signing of Gabriel Jesus in the 2022 summer transfer window and with manager Mikel Arteta preferring to choose fellow England youngster Eddie Nketiah over him.

But now as the season draws to a close Balogun will have a choice to make, either leave Arsenal on loan or permanently in search of more regular first-team football, or fight for his place in the team. As things stand Balogun has a long-term contract with Arsenal, a team that prides itself of bringing through exciting young players, so he could be looking at a long-term future at the club.

There is always lots of drama in Ligue 1, most recently with PSG manager Christophe Galtier returning to his former club Nice and sarcastically clapping his former fans. Balogun is in the top five goal scorers this season in Ligue 1, level with former Arsenal striker Alexander Lacazette and not too far behind world cup winner and often considered the best player in the world, Kylian Mbappe. He is the highest-scoring player under 21 in the league. He has played in four games for Arsenal first time, twice in the Premier League and twice in the Europa League, scoring his first goal for the club in a game against Molde. His 17 goals this season will put him high on Arsenal’s radar and that of other clubs.

 

Returning to Arsenal

Balogun is already popular with Arsenal fans, with them regularly mentioning his name when talking about next season. He is featured in the Arsenal Museum as part of the Emirates Stadium tourist attraction, however, his name is misspelt, something he would surely want to be amended if he is to return on a long-term basis.

The club already have academy products, with Bukayo Saka being a fan favourite, along with Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe. Balogun would love to be in the same position as them. But his form in France could lead him to stay there or go out on loan again. Many young English players have found themselves with good game time and performances in Germany, with Jude Bellingham being considered one of the best players in the world due to his time playing for Borussia Dortmund. With Jadon Sancho having played the best football of his career there too. While a lot of this is speculation with regard to Balogun, one thing is for sure we will continue to talk about this young player and he will likely go on to have a successful and exciting career.

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