“He was phenomenal” – impressed Mikel Arteta with the loan player from Arsenal this season

Mikel Arteta has told ‘phenomenal’ Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun to ‘keep doing what he’s been doing’ after a very impressive season in Ligue 1 so far.

Balogun joined Stade Reims on a season-long loan last summer and has scored 17 goals in 27 league games – more than Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. (13 each).

Wissam Ben-Yedder and Alexandre Lacazette have the same number, while Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe lead the list with 19. Balogun’s impressive performance in France has not gone unnoticed in north London.

In his pre-match press conference ahead of the league game against Leeds United on Saturday (April 1), Arteta said (h/t the club’s website):

“Focus on today, and focus on what he did because he was phenomenal. Keep doing what he did, and don’t focus on anything else, and everything else will come naturally. I would try to do what he was good at because worked very well for him and the team.”

The 21-year-old has been on Arsenal’s books for his entire career. He made his senior debut in a 3-0 Europa League group stage win against Dundalk in October 2020. First-team opportunities, however, have been few and far between.

The New York-born England U21 international played ten games in competitions for Arsenal’s senior team. He is expected to return to the Emirates at the end of the season but could struggle to break into Arteta’s first team.

The Gunners spent £45m to sign Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City last summer and have Eddie Nketiah as a back-up centre-forward. Gabriel Martinelli and January signing Leandro Trossard are also more than capable of playing in the middle of attack.

The Arsenal loanee has not played on international duty this season

England U21 beat France U21 4-0 but lost 2-1 to Croatia U21.
England U21 beat France U21 4-0 but lost 2-1 to Croatia U21.

Folarin Balogun has been called up to the England U21 squad for the international friendlies against France and Croatia in March.

However, the on-loan Stade Reims striker was withdrawn from the squad after picking up an injury in his club’s 2-1 defeat to Marseille on 19 March. He scored against OM and played all 90 minutes.

However, the English Football website said after the game (h/t Daily Cannon) that Balogun had suffered an injury. Neither the nature nor the severity of it is known, but it might not be too serious if he lasted the whole 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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