Folarin Balogun has suggested that Mikel Arteta was not responsible for his departure from Arsenal in the summer transfer window.
Balogun came through the youth ranks at Arsenal and managed 10 senior appearances. He has suggested that Arteta encouraged him after he returned to pre-season training but also cautioned him that “people higher up were making decisions”. In the end, the decision to stay was out of his hands.
The 22-year-old moved to French outfit Monaco for a fee of around £34.5m in the summer and he has settled in nicely at his new club. Balogun has scored three goals in his first five games for the club already, and he will be looking to emulate the performance of last season.
Serie A giants Inter Milan and Premier League rivals Chelsea showed interest in the US international but Arsenal decided to strike up a deal with Monaco instead.
“He didn’t really say much, he just said that when I came back he just said well done, and he encouraged me to keep going,” said Balogun in an interview with ESPN.
“Then me coming back in a preseason, it was just more about me seeing whether I fit into his plans and seeing if I can continue to play some games.
“He said that he would try to get me involved as best as he could, but of course he also told me that the people higher up were making decisions on me and seeing what would be best for me. So the conversations between me and him were good, but it was more about the club, what they wanted to do.
“It [his future up in the air] wasn’t something that made me feel anxious, it was just more a case of seeing what wanted to be done. It was out of my hands, that’s how I felt. It wasn’t something I could control.
The Gunners finished second in the league last season and they have started the new campaign strongly, sitting just behind Tottenham Hotspur at the top, sharing the same points.
It felt like the Gunners would give Balogun a chance to shine in the first team, after a stunning 2022-23 campaign on loan with Reims, where he netted 21 goals. However, the Gunners are aiming big at the moment, and having signed top-class players, they will probably look to bring in a top-quality striker.
Arteta has the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus at his disposal while summer signing Kai Havertz can also play upfront. It looks like the Gunners are looking to sign a new striker, and they have been heavily linked with a move for Ivan Toney in the January window.
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