Folarin Balogun believes life abroad is helping him to develop as a player and a man. The England Under-21s international hopes that his experiences will help him to come back to Arsenal in a stronger position to compete for a place in the first-team setup.
The striker, who is testing himself on loan at Ligue 1 side Reims, was told to move away and ‘develop as a man’ by manager Mikel Arteta in the summer, something that he now completely understands: “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, as cited by the Mirror.
“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 weekly French lessons and is relishing the chance of living on his own after teammates Alexandre Lacazette – now at Lyon – and Nicolas Pepe – now on loan at Nice – encouraged him to give Ligue 1 a try. Only Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Terem Moffi have scored more goals than him so far this season which suggests he’s somewhat adapted to life in his new surroundings.
“I realised there were certain things I would struggle with but I think that’s a good thing,” he added. “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.”
It’s certainly encouraging news for Arsenal and Arteta. Balogun is an an exciting prospect and could fit in as another key part of the project for years to come.