Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun has made just two Premier League appearances this term and wants to play regular first-team football after impressing in the academy
The striker, 20, recently admitted he may need to leave the Emirates in January to get regular first-team action.
Balogun has played just two Premier League games this term and finds himself behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order.
At U23 level, though, he’s scored 16 goals in 13 appearances to leave several clubs, including Sheffield Untied and Middlesbrough, reportedly interested in his services.
Balogun still has three-and-a-half years remaining on his Arsenal contract.
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“I feel like I am ready for a new challenge,” said the youngster last month. “I feel like I have played youth football for a while.
“I have scored goals at that level and improved at that level drastically compared to now. At the same time I am not sure what that challenge might be.
“It might be a loan, or if I am needed at Arsenal I am here and the gaffer knows that as well. I feel like I am definitely open to a new challenge, wherever it is I will be ready.
“As a striker and as a young player you need minutes. It is the best way to learn and get consistency.”
And, as quoted by football.london, Mertesacker has admitted Balogun is likely to leave Arsenal on loan in January.
“I think the closest, at the moment, to make that step is Flo Balogun,” said the German when asked at a fan event.
“He’s transferred in to the first team dressing room. He still plays 23s football and probably most likely will go on loan in January because you need extra exposure to get to that next level so he needs to make that transition.”
Mertesacker also explained more about his current role. The World Cup winner was appointed Arsenal’s academy boss in July 2018.
“You can’t always predict,” he said when asked which players would make the step up to senior level.
“I think Emile and Bukayo got their chances and performed really well. We won against Chelsea and then a couple of games.
“So, these are the moments you have to take advantage of. But which player is then able to and has prepared himself for that moment to come?
“To play well enough for the manager to say, ‘Listen, he’s ready and he can make the step up, he’s part of the first team, we don’t need to buy a player for 30 or 40 million’, which is not sustainable.
“Edu and Mikel have done a lot last summer, but that’s not sustainable for us as a football club.
“We’re not going to do that on a consistent basis so we need to make sure that the flow of top players from the academy is constantly there.
“So they don’t need to look to the market. We made a big effort, but that’s not sustainable for us in the future.”