The Mikel Arteta Decision
In recent developments at Arsenal, it appears that Mikel Arteta has elected to exclude forward Folarin Balogun from first-team pre-season training amidst ongoing speculation over his future at the club. The promising American international was conspicuous by his absence from the core training session on Monday, 24 July, with reports suggesting he practised independently.
The Persistent Pursuit of Inter Milan
Balogun’s situation is further complicated by Inter Milan’s steadfast interest in the 22-year-old talent. The Italian heavyweights have been tenacious in their pursuit, closely observing his movements and performances.
Exceptional Performance at Stade Reims
The spotlight on Balogun intensified following a fruitful loan spell at Ligue 1 outfit Stade Reims last season. His impressive tally of 21 league goals for Will Still’s side has not gone unnoticed, drawing the attention of numerous European football clubs.
However, the forward is reportedly resistant to another loan move and his chances of regular playtime at Arsenal seem bleak, given the heavy competition from Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah, and Kai Havertz. Other squad members like Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli, who can slot into the central striker role, further muddy the waters for Balogun.
Balogun: Heading for a Summer Exit?
Considering these factors, the summer transfer window could potentially see Balogun bidding adieu to the Gunners. Currently, Inter Milan leads the race to secure his signature. Their initial plans to secure Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea fell through, pivoting their attention fully to Balogun as they aim to bolster their forward line.
Inter Milan’s Response to Transfer Hurdles
Inter’s recruitment strategy had to quickly adapt following Lukaku’s unexpected return to Chelsea and Edin Dzeko’s switch to Fenerbahce. In this context, Balogun has emerged as their primary target, putting additional pressure on the young striker.
Solo Training Sessions for Balogun
Post Arsenal’s 2-0 pre-season defeat to Manchester United, in which Balogun remained an unused substitute, the forward trained separately under the guidance of an individual coach. This marked divergence from the main squad training was noted by close observers and further fuels speculation about his impending departure.
The situation is complicated by other Arsenal players also training away from the first-team, notably Oleksandr Zinchenko. However, Zinchenko’s situation is injury-related, whereas Balogun has no known fitness issues.
Arsenal’s Stance on Balogun Transfer
Finally, it has been reported that Arsenal has set a €58 million (£50m) asking price for Balogun, a testament to his scoring prowess in France. Whether Inter will match or exceed this fee remains to be seen, adding another layer of intrigue to this transfer saga.