Reims president claims Arsenal loanee Balogun is destined for 'very big club'
Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot believes it will be "impossible" to secure Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun on a permanent deal following his breakout season.
Balogun, 21, has enjoyed a stunning campaign in Ligue 1, with his 15 goals in 23 appearances tying him with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Lille's Jonathan David for the league's most.
It represents a big emergence for the young striker after only managing three goals in 18 appearances on loan with Championship side Middlesbrough this past season, but Caillot explained to France Bleu how the club had been monitoring Balogun for years.
"We almost signed him for the club a few years ago when he was unsure whether he would have his first professional contract at Arsenal," he said. "We clung to it, we continued to be in contact with him [and] today he is here.
"Everyone discovers Folarin Balogun, who was an illustrious unknown for the supporters a year ago, just like Hugo Ekitike, just like Boulaye Dia. It's all the strength of the recruitment cell to always have a new player to take on."
When asked about the chances of keeping Balogun in Reims, Caillot was realistic, although hopeful of maybe one more season on loan in an environment where he is clearly thriving.
"I think [signing him permanently] is impossible," he said. "The rules of the game are clear. These are boys that, when they join us, know that they're here to improve and that it's a step for them.
"So even if I'm not deciding for him, either Folarin will return to his club to have his chance, he's loaned out, or transferred to a very big club. He is a player that should go even higher.
"Obviously we'll ask him if he feels good here, and at his club, but I think that now, he will need to take a step up.
"We are already working on life after Balogun, the day when he will leave our club. But if he and the club are open to another year at Reims, we'll do everything to make it happen."
Reims sit 10th on the table, with a league-leading 13 draws in 23 matches.