Arsenal face Folarin Balogun decision as European clubs chase attacking talent

Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun has been one of the top performers during his loan spell with Reims in Ligue 1. This may cause the Gunners a headache, though, as the 21-year-old’s future is now the subject of speculation.

On Monday, David Ornstein (via The Athletic) revealed that Balogun wants to be a first-team regular next season. Of course, he would prefer to do this at Arsenal, where he is an academy graduate. However, if this is not possible, then numerous teams across Europe are reportedly preparing to bid for his services.

Whilst on loan from Arsenal in France, Folarin Balogun has lit up Ligue 1. He has 18 goals from 29 appearances so far, plus three assists. This puts the youngster third in the goal-scoring charts behind joint leaders Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe.

Balogun was key to Reims’ 19-match unbeaten streak under Will Still. He scored 11 goals during that run, including a hat-trick against Lorient. In addition, Balogun provided key goals in matches against the likes of PSG and Monaco.

As a result of his breakout campaign, Folarin Balogun may become a player in demand. So, which clubs are chasing the England U21 starlet?

Ligue 1 interest in Gunners loanee

Firstly, numerous clubs that have faced the attacking talent would like to snap him up. For example, GFFN reports that Lille are keeping tabs on Folarin Balogun. Les Dogues may have to replace their own star striker – Jonathan David – as he could leave Northern France this summer.

So, Lille might see Balogun as a like-for-like replacement. The Arsenal loanee has not actually faced Lille this season, due to missing the first fixture with an injury. But Les Dogues should get a chance to see Balogun in action against them when they face Reims on 6 May.

Elsewhere, two sides in the south of France are apparently keeping Balogun on their radar. These are Monaco and Marseille, who are both looking for an injection of youth in their attacks. The two clubs could also offer the striker European football – an attractive proposition for sure.

Arsenal may not receive interest solely from France for Folarin Balogun, though.

Serie A giants linked to striker

CalcioMercato reports that AC Milan have Balogun as one of their transfer targets this summer. The Rossoneri attack has been inconsistent in 2022/23, with Olivier Giroud the key provider. Meanwhile, Divock Origi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – among others – have not chipped in with sufficient goals.

Therefore, Milan may decide a turnover in their striker department is necessary. As a young, dynamic attacker, Balogun could provide an immediate boost for the team, although he made need some time to adapt to Italian football.

Last month, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Inter also have the New York-born forward on their radar. The Nerazzurri’s interest likely results from Romelu Lukaku’s expiring loan from Chelsea among other attacking needs.

Overall, Balogun has many suitors across Europe who can all offer him regular starts. But would this be possible if he remained with the Gunners?

Could Arsenal just keep Folarin Balogun anyway?

Ultimately, Mikel Arteta and the club have the power. Balogun still has two years left on his current contract and will return to the Emirates at the end of his loan with Reims. From here, it is up to the management to decide how useful he will be in their squad.

Gabriel Jesus appears the de-facto number 9 when he is fit. Behind him, Eddie Nketiah deputised well during the Brazilian’s absence through injury. Even then, January signing Leandro Trossard proved useful in a central role.

So where does Balogun fit in?

It is hard to tell right now. Jesus and Trossard’s flexibility means that they can also play on the wing – offering a central spot to Balogun. Additionally, with the Gunners likely fighting in the Champions League and Premier League next season, quality in their squad depth will be vital.

This may not be sufficient for a young talent who wants to play week-in, week-out, though. Arsenal may thus listen to their player’s wishes and seek to cash in this summer.

Featured image credit: Getty