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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Dan Marsh

Folarin Balogun proves Mikel Arteta right after following Alexandre Lacazette advice

Arsenal have enjoyed a dream season so far under Mikel Arteta - and the same can be said for one of their fledgling Hale End graduates, Folarin Balogun.

Balogun has not been a part of the Arsenal team that is bidding to end an agonising 19-year title drought, but that hasn't prevented him from enhancing his own burgeoning reputation across the channel with Reims.

After spending the second half of last season on loan in the Championship with Middlesbrough, the 21-year-old was challenged to "develop as a man" by Arteta, who admitted that the club should have arranged a loan move for the youngster before his temporary switch to Teeside last year.

But the Spaniard was in no doubt over Balogun's long-term future; speaking back in March, while Balogun was still at Middlesbrough, Arteta was adamant that the young striker has what it takes to play a part for Arsenal moving forward.

He said: "You can see how he is developing. This is going to give us more detail about what is the next best move for him to keep developing because he has developed and we want him to be part of our future. He needed a pathway, he needs that exposure.


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"He needs to go through good and difficult moments, and he needs to be able to adapt and find himself in the dressing room, and develop the importance that is required to play at this level. I think he is doing all of that really well."

Join the debate! Would you like to see Balogun back at Arsenal next season? Let us know here.

Folarin Balogun has thrived at Reims this season and is Ligue 1's top scorer (AFP via Getty Images)

A return of three goals in 18 games in the Championship indicated another spell away was required. But Balogun has flourished in France with Reims this term.

The on-loan Arsenal man plundered a stunning hat-trick on Wednesday night to propel himself to the top of the Ligue 1 scoring ranks ahead of the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.

Balogun's tally of 14 strikes in 20 league matches means he has scored over half of the 26 goals Reims have bagged in the league this season - and has captured the attention of Arsenal fans.

While Balogun is well on track to fulfilling the challenge Arteta laid out for him prior to his move across the channel, the striker has already credited a former Arsenal team-mate for encouraging him to step outside of his comfort zone.

Alexandre Lacazette was a big influence for Balogun at Arsenal before he left the club at the end of his contract in the summer. The 31-year-old is also in Ligue 1 at Lyon - and he predicted that Balogun would be a hit in France long before he returned to his old club.

Speaking to Prime Video back in September, Balogun said of Lacazette: "When he was at Arsenal he would always help me progress and improve, teaching me techniques and giving me advice.

"I remember speaking to Lacazette and he kept on telling me: you need to go to Ligue 1, you will do well here. Maybe he should become my agent as well because he has a great knowledge of football!"

READ MORE:    Harry Maguire believes Man Utd lost another dressing room "leader" on deadline day
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