"He has been phenomenal" - Mikel Arteta impressed with Arsenal loanee this season
Mikel Arteta has told 'phenomenal' Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun to 'keep doing what he has been doing' after a highly impressive season in Ligue 1 so far.
Balogun joined Stade Reims on a season-long loan last summer and has netted 17 goals in 27 league games - more than Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. (13 apiece).
Wissam Ben-Yedder and Alexandre Lacazette have the same tally, while Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe lead the list with 19. Balogun's impressive performances in France haven't gone unnoticed in north London.
At his pre-match press conference before the league game against Leeds United on Saturday (April 1), Arteta said (h/t club website):
"To focus on today, and focus on what he had been doing because he has been phenomenal. Keep doing what he has been doing, and don’t focus on anything else, and everything else will come naturally. I would try to do what he has been doing because he’s been working really well for him and the team."
The 21-year-old has been on Arsenal's books for the entirety of his career. He made his senior debut in a 3-0 Europa League group stage win against Dundalk in October 2020. Chances in the first team, though, were few and far in between.
The New York-born England U21 international has featured in ten games across competitions for the senior Arsenal team. He's expected to return to the Emirates at the end of the season but could struggle to force his way into Arteta's first team.
The Gunners spent £45 million to sign Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City last summer and have Eddie Nketiah as a backup centre-forward. Gabriel Martinelli and January signing Leandro Trossard are also more than capable of playing down the middle in attack.
Arsenal loanee did not feature on international duty this season
Folarin Balogun was called up to the England U21 team for their international friendlies against France and Croatia in March.
However, the on-loan Stade Reims striker was withdrawn from the squad after suffering an injury in his club's 2-1 league loss against Marseille on March 19. He scored against OM and played the full 90 minutes.
However, England Football's website said after the game (h/t Daily Cannon) that Balogun had suffered an injury. Neither the nature nor its severity is known, but it may not be too serious if he lasted the entire game against Les Minots.
The Arsenal man, who is also eligible to represent the USA, is yet to make his senior bow for England.
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