'I was a bit frustrated' - Arsenal loanee and USMNT target Folarin Balogun explains why first-team playing time is his top priority

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Folarin Balogun Stade de Reims Ligue 1 2022-2023
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Folarin Balogun opened up on his decision to leave Arsenal on loan in the summer transfer window in revealing comments about his career priorities.
  • Balogun shining on loan in France
  • Moved so he could play regularly
  • Praises Arteta's impact at Arsenal

WHAT HAPPENED? Balogun opted to joins Reims on a season-long loan in the summer and has proven to be a huge hit with the Ligue 1 side. The 21-year-old says he decided to look for a move away from the Gunners after failing to play on the club's pre-season tour - echoing his need to be valued at international level.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "Last summer, I went on tour with the first team to America. I didn’t get any playing time out there, so I was a bit frustrated. It’s one of my dreams to just play in the first team," he told the club's media. "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. A lot of people might forget that I am still an Arsenal player.

"How Mikel [Arteta] has transformed the squad has been amazing. So, I mean, I’m pretty focused here [Reims], determined to show people that this isn’t a blip, this is something that I could do consistently."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Balogun has impressed in France this season, scoring 17 goals in just 27 matches. The youngster has said he's not surprised at all by his numbers since moving to the Ligue 1 side and has vowed to continue showing people what he can do. Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot has said it will be impossible for his side to sign Balogun permanently and expects the forward to move to a "very big club" if he does not return to Arsenal.

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Arsenal Mikel Arteta Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun Reims 2022-23

DID YOU KNOW? Aged 21 years and 252 days, Folarin Balogun became the youngest player to score at least 16 goals in his first season in Ligue 1 since Mohammed Salem with Sedan-Torcy in 1960-61.

WHAT NEXT? Balogun and Reims are back in Ligue 1 action on Sunday against Marseille. The winger is then expected to head off on international duty after being named in the England Under-21 squad for games against France and Croatia.