Folarin Balogun has put a series of clubs on transfer red alert by admitting he is likely to seek a loan move away from Arsenal in January.
Big things are expected of the 20-year-old striker, who is a regular in Arsenal’s Under-23s. And he outlined that enormous potential by scoring his first goal for England Under-21s as Czech Republic were beaten 3-1 at Turf Moor on Thursday.
Balogun has made three senior appearances for the Gunners this season. However, his last appearance came over two months ago – and now it seems the striker is getting a little impatient.
Indeed, he’s told Mikel Arteta he wants more responsibility and to get a chance at senior level. And if that’s not forthcoming, he’s willing to make a move elsewhere to further his football education.
“I feel like I am ready for a new challenge,” he said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror.
“I feel like I have played youth football for a while. I’ve scored goals at that level and improved at that level drastically compared to now. At “he same time I am not sure what that challenge might be.
“It might be a loan, or if I am needed at Arsenal I am here and the gaffer knows that as well.
“I feel like I am definitely open to a new challenge, wherever it is I will be ready.
“As a striker and as a young player you need minutes. It is the best way to learn and get consistency.
“Whatever the plan is I’m going to give it 100 per cent and believe it will work out.”
Indeed, England’s Under-21 coach Lee Carsley would also like Balogun to get more senior football, having scored 10 goals in eight appearances in Premier League 2.
Those stats suggest that Balogun is tearing it up and Carsley believes it’s a level he has surpassed.
“You need testing,” said Carsley. “Watching him in the Under-23s for Arsenal, it’s probably a little bit too easy for him and he’s passed that level.
“I imagine he wants to play for Arsenal and pushing for a position. But it’s such a big club with a lot of competition.”
Balogun names Arsenal inspiration
Balogun’s goal for England U21s added to Anthony Gordon’s debut brace. That helped Carsley’s side go second in Group G, two points behind the Czech Republic, in the race to reach Euro 2023.
The Young Lions coped without Emile Smith Rowe, promoted to Gareth Southgate’s senior side and who debuted on Friday night.
And Balogun sees his Arsenal teammate as a big inspiration.
He said: “This time last year Emile was playing Under-23s football. So it shows how quickly it can turn around. It’s not overnight so it would be naive for me to think the process would happen overnight. When you’re ready you take your opportunity.
“The manager said he had a plan for me and that was a big reason why I decided to stay and re-sign. I know there is a plan for me which I have spoken about with various people at Arsenal.”
He added: “I’m not at the level I want to be. I speak to Emile and Bukayo [Saka] a lot. They tell me to be patient. They tell me it is not an overnight thing, which it hasn’t been for them. It would be naive for me to think that.
“You just have to keep practicing, then you see the rewards and when you are ready you will take the opportunity.”
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