'We've arrived at the inevitable destination' – Folarin Balogun bids farewell to Reims after 22-goal loan spell as USMNT star prepares to return to Arsenal

BalogunGetty Images
  • Balogun officially departs Reims
  • Arsenal first-team spot up for grabs
  • Milan linked with permanent deal

WHAT HAPPENED? The 21-year-old forward has caught the eye while on loan in Ligue 1 from the Gunners, plundering 21 league goals – and another in the French Cup – to prompt talk of a potential Arsenal first-team spot next season. In that time, he's pledged his international allegiance to the USA, despite also qualifying for England.

WHAT THEY SAID: In a farewell post to Reims on Instagram, Balogun said: "Never easy to say goodbye, but we’ve arrived at the inevitable destination. Last summer I had the opportunity to join and was welcomed with open arms from day-one! The support I've received from you all throughout my loan spell has been incredible and heartwarming. I leave hoping I was able to repay the love, trust and belief you guy’s put in me. This will be an unforgettable chapter for me and my family. Thank you for everything!"

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Balogun is contracted to Arsenal until June 2025 and looks unlikely to head out on loan again next season, instead competing with Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah for first-team minutes under Mikel Arteta. He's also had a loan to Middlesbrough before Reims and will believe he's gathered enough experience to star for Arteta's men – he could leave on a permanent deal if that is not guaranteed, having been linked with AC Milan already this summer.

Article continues below


FolarinーBalogun(C)Getty ImagesMikel Arteta Arsenal 2022-23Getty Images

WHAT NEXT? That is very much a question that remains open for Balogun. The summer will reveal all, with plenty of clubs likely to be interested if Arsenal cannot give him regular first-team football.