Folarin Balogun confirms Mikel Arteta’s beliefs amid Alexandre Lacazette instructions
Folarin Balogun, an Arsenal youngster, has thrived away from the Emirates this season with Reims after taking advice from his former Gunners teammate Alexandre Lacazette.
Arsenal have had a fantastic season so far under Mikel Arteta, and one of their young Hale End graduates, Folarin Balogun, is no exception.
Balogun has not been a part of Arsenal’s bid to end a 19-year title drought, but that hasn’t stopped him from enhancing his own burgeoning reputation with Reims across the channel.
After spending the second half of last season on loan with Middlesbrough in the Championship, Arteta challenged the 21-year-old to “develop as a man,” admitting that the club should have arranged a loan move for the youngster before his temporary switch to Teeside last year.
But the Spaniard was certain of Balogun’s long-term future; speaking in March while Balogun was still at Middlesbrough, Arteta was adamant that the young striker has what it takes to play a role for Arsenal in the future.
He stated: “You can see how he’s growing. This will provide us with more information about what the next best step is for him to continue developing because he has developed and we want him to be a part of our future. He required a path, as well as exposure.
“He must go through both good and bad times in order to adapt and find himself in the locker room, as well as develop the importance required to play at this level. I believe he is doing all of this very well.”
A return of three goals in 18 Championship games suggested that another spell away was required. However, Balogun has thrived in France with Reims this season.
On Wednesday night, the on-loan Arsenal man scored a stunning hat-trick to leapfrog Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi to the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts.
Balogun’s 14 goals in 20 league games this season means he has scored more than half of Reims’ 26 league goals this season – and has piqued the interest of Arsenal fans.
While Balogun is well on his way to completing the challenge Arteta set for him prior to his move across the channel, the striker has already credited a former Arsenal teammate with encouraging him to push himself outside of his comfort zone.
Alexandre Lacazette, who left Arsenal at the end of his contract in the summer, was a big influence on Balogun. The 31-year-old is also a Ligue 1 player at Lyon, and he predicted Balogun would be a success in France long before he returned to his old club.
Balogun said of Lacazette in an interview with Prime Video in September: “He was always there to help me progress and improve at Arsenal, teaching me techniques and giving me advice.
“I remember talking to Lacazette, and he kept telling me: you need to go to Ligue 1, you’ll do well here. Maybe he should be my agent as well because he knows so much about football!”
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