Balogun admits he was frustrated not to be given game time by Arteta during Arsenal's USA TourPublished: March 18, 2023
England U21 international of Nigerian descent Folarin Balogun has opened up on his decision to depart Arsenal in search of regular first team football last summer.
The Hale End Academy product saw the handwriting on the wall that he wasn't in the plans of manager Mikel Arteta for the 2022-2023 season after he was starved of game time during the Gunners' United States tour in July 2023.
One of the seven players classed as strikers in the 33-man squad, Balogun was a non-playing substitute against Everton, Orlando City and Chelsea, much to his frustration.
After a chat with Arteta, it was decided it was best for the Anglo-American-Nigerian center forward to join a club in the top five European Leagues.
Balogun has been one the revelations of the season in the French Ligue 1 with some brilliant displays for Stade de Reims, scoring sixteen goals in twenty six appearances.
The 21-year-old is the youngest player to score at least sixteen Ligue 1 goals in his first season for more than sixty years, and equaled Victor Ikpeba's Nigerian record of the most goals in a single season.
"Last summer, I went on tour with the first team to America. And I didn't get any playing time out there, so I was a bit frustrated," Balogun said to Arsenal's official website.
"It's one of my dreams to just play in the first team. I had to be realistic at the same time.
"I spoke to Mikel (Arteta) and he gave me a few options. And together, we decided it'd be best for me to come to France."
Balogun signed a contract extension with Arsenal in 2021, keeping him at the Emirates Stadium until the end of the 2024-2025 season.
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