Folarin Balogun: A Rising Star Gaining Attention from Napoli and AC Milan
One young star making waves in European football this season is Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun. On the back of a fruitful loan spell with Stade Reims, Balogun’s name is being linked with some of Serie A’s top clubs, particularly Napoli and AC Milan.
A Golden Loan Stint
Balogun, just 21, spent the recent season away from the Emirates, honing his craft in Ligue 1 at Stade Reims. His spell in France could not have gone better; he scored an impressive 21 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions, asserting himself as one of the brightest young strikers in Europe.
This fruitful stint with Reims has done wonders for Balogun’s standing in the football world, and he’s ready for regular first-team football – something that Arsenal might struggle to offer him.
The Italian Call: Napoli and AC Milan Show Interest
Balogun’s impressive exploits haven’t gone unnoticed in Italy, according to John Cross in the Daily Mirror. The newly-crowned champions Napoli, and their rivals AC Milan, are both reported to be considering him as an attacking addition to their ranks. Napoli, in particular, view the young gunner as a potential replacement for their coveted striker Victor Osimhen, whose future in Italy remains uncertain with Manchester United, Newcastle, and Paris Saint-Germain reported to be interested.
AC Milan, renowned for their keenness to invest in young talent, also regard Balogun as fitting their model for future stars.
Balancing the Books at Arsenal
Back at Arsenal, Balogun’s potential departure is seen as a way to balance the books, with manager Mikel Arteta expected to undertake a substantial reshuffling of his squad this summer. With a lofty transfer target in Declan Rice, and a price tag of £100 million set by West Ham, the funds raised from Balogun’s sale could be invaluable.
Despite Balogun’s successful stint at Reims and his readiness for first-team football, his opportunities at the Emirates seem limited. Arsenal’s attack is led by Gabriel Jesus, a previous summer addition from Manchester City, with Eddie Nketiah providing the back-up.
An Open Future: Balogun’s Perspective
Despite extending his contract with Arsenal until 2025, Balogun has been open about the possibility of leaving. Discussing his future, he said:
“A lot could happen in football, a lot could change, and it just depends on the conversations we have between me and the club in the summer, and we’ll see what happens.”
His impressive season in France has led to praise from footballing greats, including Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Reflecting on Balogun’s development, Henry lauded his decision to move abroad, praising his improvement, particularly in his finishing.
As we approach the summer transfer window, the interest from Napoli and AC Milan in Balogun demonstrates the high regard in which this young talent is held. With uncertainty around his future at Arsenal, the prospect of a move to Serie A could be the next exciting chapter in Balogun’s blossoming career.