Transfer Talk: Balogun may have earned a shot with Gunners
North London is not the only place where Arsenal’s youngsters are thriving this season with Folarin Balogun enjoying a superb season on loan at Reims.
The Hale End academy graduate has found the net 17 times in Ligue 1, leading to speculation over where his future lies.
As the Gunners prepare to return to Premier League action against Leeds on Saturday, we look at what is next for their homegrown talent.
Reims have been one of France’s most talked about clubs this term due to their surprise success under Belgian-born English manager Will Still.
Starring in Les Rouges et Blancs' record 19-game unbeaten run was Gunners loanee Balogun, whose league goal tally is bettered only by Paris Saint-Germain ace Kylian Mbappe and Lille forward Jonathan David.
What is more, only France captain Mbappe and World Cup-winning PSG team-mate Lionel Messi have taken more shots than Balogun (86) in 2022-23, leaving him in impressive company.
With ruthless finishing ability, blistering pace and impressive link-up play, Balogun is undoubtedly among the French top flight’s most exciting marksmen.
While Mikel Arteta will no doubt be delighted to see Balogun thriving elsewhere, his exploits leave the Spaniard with a big decision to make this summer.
Gabriel Jesus recently returned from injury after an impressive first half of the campaign following last summer's move from Manchester City and fellow academy graduate Eddie Nketiah is proving a worthy back-up.
January addition Leandro Trossard has also impressed as a striker of late, meaning Arteta is not short of options up top.
And that Balogun made just two Premier League appearances in more than three years under the Gunners boss before sending him out on loan suggests he is yet to be convinced of the youngster’s first-team pedigree.
Life in Ligue 1
Having previously outlined his desire to break through at his boyhood club, Balogun refused to rule out remaining in France past this summer.
Speaking on his future, the forward said: "Contractually I have to go back because the loan was only for one year so that was always the agreement.
"I'm not sure what is going to happen in the future.
"A lot could happen in football, a lot could change, and it just depends on the conversations we have between me and the club in the summer and we'll see what happens.
"I mean there's no door that's closed. Of course I have had a good year here and to a lot of people it makes sense for me to come back here. I don't know what the future will bring."
It may not be just those two options for Balogun to consider, with reports suggesting Italian giants Inter Milan and AC Milan are keeping tabs on the prospect’s situation.
Balogun's club future is not the only talking point of late with his international allegiance a subject of much discussion during the pause in domestic action.
The youngster has 13 caps for England Under-21s but is also eligible to feature for the United States — the country of his birth — and Nigeria.
Harry Kane is the only Englishman to score more goals than Balogun this season in Europe's top five leagues.
Yet the Reims ace could not win a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for their Euro 2024 qualifying wins over Italy and Ukraine with Brentford’s Ivan Toney selected instead.
The Three Lions boss has urged Balogun to be patient to get his chance and suggested there were still at least three strikers ahead of him in the pecking order.
Southgate said: "We like Flo. He has obviously not had an opportunity in the Premier League yet, so we have to weigh up those goals to Ivan [Toney], for example, or Ollie Watkins.
"Or Eddie Nketiah, who has done really well with the opportunity he has had at Arsenal."
Interest in Balogun continues to rise at club and international level — and that will only make him harder for Arsenal and England to ignore.