Mikel Arteta has now explained why Arsenal sanctioned the transfer of striker Folarin Balogun to Ligue 1 club AS Monaco despite ‘doing well’ whilst out on loan last season.
The 22-year-old impressed Arteta with his efforts in the French top-flight for Stade de Reims during the 2022/23 season. Balogun produced a tremendous return with the Stade Auguste Delaune team. Yet he returned to north London to sit third in Arsenal’s striker pecking order.
Balogun scored 21 goals and laid on three assists in 37 Ligue 1 appearances last term. Kylian Mbappe (29), Alexandre Lacazette (27) and Jonathan David (24) were the only players to net more goals than the American. The two-cap talent scored against several top teams, as well.
Arsenal capitalised on Balogun’s loan form with his transfer to Monaco
Marseille (2), Lens (2), Stade Rennais (2), Paris Saint-Germain (1) and Monaco (1) would not stop Balogun from scoring. Yet Arteta kept his faith in Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah back at Emirates Stadium. He also played Leandro Trossard or Kai Havertz as a makeshift striker.
So, as Balogun only had two years left on his contract, Arsenal accepted Monaco’s bid worth €30m (£26m), rising to €40m (£34.5m) with add-ons, for his transfer. The Gunners also got a 17.5% sell-on clause as part of his move to the Principality on an initial five-year contract.
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Arteta explains why he’s ‘really happy’ for Balogun to leave the Emirates
Arteta has now explained that Balogun pushing for first-team minutes also played a factor in Arsenal’s decision to sanction his transfer to Monaco. The striker had no interest in a year on their bench. But the Gunners coach did not see him featuring regularly at Emirates Stadium.
“We didn’t have space for him in the squad to give him the minutes that he needs,” Arteta explained in his pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal facing Manchester United on Sunday. “He was doing well last year in his loan period.
“He’s evolving the right way and wanted the chance to continue developing his career. He’s going to a really good club that has huge experience of developing talent, as everybody knows. So, I’m really happy for him, as well.”
Balogun is a product of Arsenal’s academy but rarely featured for their first-team before his transfer to Monaco. Arteta gave the New York native just 10 senior appearances, over which he scored twice. The striker also only scored three in 21 games on loan with Middlesbrough.