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Folarin Balogun ‘likely’ to leave Arsenal on loan this January, says Per Mertesacker


Folarin Balogun is set to leave Arsenal on a temporary basis this winter (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal academy boss Per Mertesacker has backed Folarin Balogun to make the step up to Mikel Arteta’s first-team, but expects the forward to go out on loan in January.

Balogun is considered one of the most promising talents to emerge from Arsenal’s youth system in recent times and proved his quality in the Europa League last season, racking up two goals and assist in five appearances.

The 20-year-old subsequently put an end to rumours he could be set for the exit door at the Emirates as he committed his future to his boyhood club for a further four years back in April.

Arteta went on to hand Balogun his full Premier League debut in this season’s curtain-raiser at Brentford back in April, a clear show of faith from the Arsenal head coach.

However, Balogun has since been limited to just two substitute appearances against Chelsea and AFC Wimbledon in the league and Carabao Cup respectively and the attacker has grown increasingly frustrated by a lack of opportunities.

Recent reports claimed Arsenal are ready to let both Eddie Nketiah and Balogun seek regular football out on loan this winter, with the young duo keen for more minutes.

Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder is known to be an admirer of Balogun and Mertesacker – speaking at the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust Christmas Event – said it was ‘likely’ the England Under-21 would leave on a temporary basis.

‘I think the closest, at the moment, to make that step is Flo Balogun,’ Mertesacker said when asked which young player fans should keep an eye on.

‘He’s transferred in to the first-team dressing room.

‘He still plays Under-23s football and probably most likely will go on loan in January because you need extra exposure to get to that next level so he needs to make that transition.’

Mertesacker expects Balogun to go out on loan in January (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal made a statement of intent as they spent in excess of £140million on new signings last summer, with Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale and Tomiyasu all completing moves to north London.

But Mertesacker believes this way of business is ‘not sustainable’ and hopes the club are able to produce more homegrown talent going forward after the success of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.

‘You can’t always predict [who will make the step up]. I think Emile and Bukayo got their chances and performed really well,’ the ex-Arsenal and Germany defender added.

‘We won against Chelsea and then a couple of games so these are the moments you have to take advantage of.

‘But which player is then able to and has prepared himself for that moment to come? To play well enough for the manager to say, “Listen, he’s ready and he can make the step up, he’s part of the first team, we don’t need to buy a player for 30 or 40 million”, which is not sustainable.

‘Edu and Mikel have done a lot last summer, but that’s not sustainable for us as a football club.

‘We’re not going to do that on a consistent basis so we need to make sure that the flow of top players from the academy is constantly there so they don’t need to look to the market.

‘We made a big effort, but that’s not sustainable for us in the future.’


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