The Arsenal starlet Folarin Balogun has always been tipped for the top after being a prolific goalscorer at every level for Arsenal, from schoolboy right up ’til the U21s.
Eddie Nketiah had the same meteoric rise as a Hale End graduate, but like Balogun he found it very hard to reproduce that form when first introduced to the Arsenal first team.
Whereas Eddie was sent to Leeds on loan in the Championship but couldn’t quite make the cut under Bielsa, Balogun took a much more inventive approach and instead moved to Ligue 1 with Reims.
Despite needing to settle in a new country and learn the language, the Arsenal youngster rose to the challenge and has thrived in France. As Balogun told Prime Sport: “I’ve spent my whole career in London so when I came here I knew it was going to be different, I didn’t know the language and I’m still trying to learn – but for me it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. This is the reason I’m here and hopefully this decision will be good for me and pay off.”
It certainly looks like it is paying off so far, with Balogun scoring 5 goals in 7 games, which is half of his struggling team’s total so far this season as they hover just above the relegation zone.
Thierry Henry is certainly impressed with Balogun’s bravery, as he said in the Standard: “I’m really happy for him because in general English players don’t go abroad.
“Normally players are loaned either to another Premier League side or in the Championship.
“He’s a very English-style player who likes to run down the channels but he was missing something, which was his finishing.
“He’s now starting to score goals regularly and I’m happy for that – happy he has gone abroad.
“It’s especially so considering he is a Londoner, in general Londoners struggle to leave London.
“When I heard he was coming to France, it made me think he has a refreshing mindset.”
You cannot help but admire his confidence and bravery to take such a big step at his age, and if he continues playing like this he could return to Arsenal next season to challenge for starting spot in Arteta’s side next season…
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