Folarin Balogun has hinted that leaving Arsenal this summer was completely out of his control. The striker left the Gunners for Monaco after holding private talks with Mikel Arteta following his return from a loan spell at Reims.
Balogun had been at Arsenal since the age of eight. With the likes of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe all prominent members of Arteta’s squad in recent years, supporters wanted to see another academy graduate make the grade at the Emirates.
The early signs were good for Balogun, scoring two goals for the club before he turned 20. However, further opportunities were hard to come by.
His spell at Reims proved to be a huge success and only ramped up expectations that he could be Arsenal’s long-term No 9. Balogun scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 last term, the joint-fourth leading goalscorer in the French top flight.
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But he returned to an Arsenal squad which had just narrowly missed out on the Premier League title. A starting spot was from a certainty and a decision on his future had to be made.
ESPN claims that call was left to Arsenal chiefs, who were attracted by the possibility of selling Balogun for a large transfer fee. Arteta chatted with the USA star but the decision was seemingly out of both of their hands.
Balogun said: “The conversations between me and him were good, but it was more about the club, what they wanted to do. It was out of my hands.
“That’s how I felt. It wasn’t something I could control. The only thing I could do was just turn up to train and work hard.
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“So I did that. And then after training, I enjoyed being back in London. I saw my friends, caught up with my family, and yeah, I wasn’t really too bothered about it.”
Arsenal were holding out for £50million for Balogun to make him the most expensive sale in their history. Ultimately they allowed him to join Monaco for an initial fee of £25.7m, with add-ons taking the total to £34.3m.
Arsenal also inserted a sell-on clause of 17.5 per cent, ensuring they do not miss out if his undoubted potential comes to fruition. Balogun has scored three goals in his first five league games for Monaco, despite missing two penalties in their 1-0 loss at home to Nice last month.
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