Following an excellent loan spell in Ligue 1 with Reims, Folarin Balogun was set to be given a chance to impress Mikel Arteta this summer ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.
The young striker, who’s featured just twice in the Premier League, saw his value skyrocket last season as he scored 21 times in the league for a middling outfit. Several European clubs have reportedly boasted an interest in signing Balogun this summer, but Arsenal’s rather lofty valuation – believed to be close to £50m – has deterred potential suitors thus far.
The likes of RB Leipzig and Milan have turned to alternative targets, with Balogun’s future in north London looking more ambiguous by the day.
What’s going on with Folarin Balogun this summer?
An intriguing sub-plot of Arsenal’s pre-season was set to be the striker duel between Eddie Nketiah and Balogun after the latter travelled with the squad out to the States. Supporters were excited to see what the young forward could do, but so far his minutes have been limited.
He was shunted out to the right for much of his cameo appearance against FC Nurnberg and was an unused substitute in the 2-0 defeat to Man Utd on Saturday. Nketiah, meanwhile, has featured in all pre-season games thus far and racked up more minutes than any outfield player. His performances, however, have been sub-par.
This was meant to be when Mikel Arteta gained further clarity at the striker position, but Balogun’s utilisation so far combined with Nketiah’s struggles have instead cast a darker cloud of doubt. It was then revealed by The Athletic that Balogun trained separately from the squad in LA on Monday night ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Barcelona, but why that was hasn’t been disclosed, thus fuelling greater speculation.
It’s a rather confusing situation, with Balogun’s pre-season so far looking like a bit of a waste. Arsenal are not going to go into 2023/24 with three senior strikers on their books, but it’s not yet clear how the Nketiah/Balogun situation will play out.