Folarin Balogun discovering answer to Mikel Arteta chat as he eyes Arsenal future

Folarin Balogun says life in France is toughening him up and he is determined to show Mikel Arteta just how much for England’s U21s.

The Arsenal striker was told to go away and “become a man” by the Gunners’ manager at the end of last season. And despite several offers from Championship clubs decided to test himself by hooking up on loan with struggling Ligue 1 side Reims instead.

Balogun, 21, admitted life has been tough given he is living on his own and struggling with the language barrier with only three English speakers at the club. But a return of five goals and two assists in eight games shows that he is thriving under the pressure and Balogun insists he already feels he is maturing fast.

“Before I moved, Mikel said he wanted me to develop as a man. It was kind of like an open answer and for me to interpret what me meant by develop as a man,” he said. “But by moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.”

Balogun is taking French language lessons weekly and while he admitted it is a work in progress he is willing to learn. And he is also relishing the challenge of living on his own. Gunners teammates including Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette encouraged the young striker to give Ligue 1 a go. And with only Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Terem Moffi having scored more goals than him this season it is a case of so far so good.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Balogun make it at Arsenal? Let us know in the comments section

Folarin Balogun has scored three goals in six appearances for Arsenal having made his debut in October 2020

Folarin Balogun has scored three goals in six appearances for Arsenal having made his debut in October 2020

Balogun is aiming to show how much his he has improved for taking himself out of his comfort zone when Lee Carsley’s U21s tackle Italy in Pescara on Wednesday night. “I realised there were certain things I would struggle with but I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

“It helps you to manage stuff you’re uncomfortable with which is important. It is still early but definitely if I am around those sorts of names at the end of the season I would be really happy with myself.”

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