Folarin Balogun’s stance on January transfer as Edu and Mikel Arteta make key Arsenal decision

Folarin Balogun is keen on proving himself on loan with Arsenal already receiving a number of enquiries for the forward.

The 20-year-old striker signed a contract extension last summer after protracted negotiations which lasted for several months.

Balogun has officially been promoted to the Gunners’ first-team squad – although he still faces strong competition for a place even in the matchday squad given the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are ahead of him in the pecking order.

Championship clubs including Middlesbrough, Millwall and Swansea have expressed interest in a January loan move, while French side Saint-Etienne are also interested in the youngster’s services.

Balogun didn’t make a Premier League matchday squad for any of the 38 games last season as his six first-team appearances came in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

“I have played youth football for a little while, I have obviously scored a lot of goals at that level and improved at that level drastically from when I started,” Balogun said.

“I do feel like I am ready for a new challenge but I am not sure what that might be, it might be a loan or if I am needed at Arsenal then I am here and the gaffer knows that.

“I am definitely open to a new challenge but it is something that whatever that challenge is I will be ready.

“I know the potential I could have and that I need to achieve is massive. I haven’t achieved it yet. What I see now I would just describe as glimpses, things that need to be worked on and can be improved.

“The performances I am putting in are all I can do at the moment. I know that I am going in the right direction.”

Balogun has previously spoken with fellow Hale End graduates Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka about his path to regular senior minutes.

“This time last year Emile was playing 23s football, so that just shows how quickly things can change in football,” Balogun added.

“I know that I need to be patient and I have complete faith in the gaffer. Whatever the plan is I will give 100 per cent and I know it will work out.”

He made his Premier League debut against Brentford in the opening game of the season last month after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were ruled out of the game.

However, the 20-year-old struggled to make an impact as Arsenal lost the game 2-0 and received criticism from all angles for what was an underwhelming first performance of the campaign..

Speaking to the What The Footie podcast, Balogun’s older brother Royce explained why Folarin struggled against Brentford and revealed the advice he told him after the match.

“When you look at that striker problem, in terms of chances created, it’s not just Folarin, it was there when Martinelli was playing there, when Aubameyang was playing there – the system doesn’t work. You can’t blame one player for that, it’s more the actual systematic thing.

“Whenever I talk to Folarin I tell him to keep going but the system just doesn’t really work at the moment. Soon it will work, there will be a movement and you’ve got to be ready when it does. At the same time, there’s nothing really you can do, you just have to support, keep on talking and keep telling him to keep maintaining.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal are open to offers for Eddie Nketiah who has rejected the Gunners’ latest attempts to tie him down to a new contract.

Nketiah’s current deal expires in the summer but he wants assurances of regular first team football before committing.