'I spoke to him': 21-year-old says Alexandre Lacazette told him to leave Arsenal last summer
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

'I spoke to him': 21-year-old says Alexandre Lacazette told him to leave Arsenal last summer

Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun has now said that Alexandre Lacazette told him to leave the club this summer.

Balogun was speaking to The Athletic, and will be glad he took the Frenchman’s advice.

The 21-year-old forward joined Stade Reims in Ligue 1 in August.

Balogun had previously spent six months on loan at Championship side Middlesbrough last season.

It was his first spell away from the club, and didn’t go entirely to plan.

He played 21 times for Boro, but many of those appearances came from the bench where he struggled to make an impact.

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He scored three times, and provided three assists, but couldn’t quite help Middlesbrough reach the play-offs.

His time in France has been much more successful, and has started to grab the attention of plenty of Arsenal fans.

Balogun already has eight league goals – more than Lionel Messi – in a struggling Stade Reims side.

Balogun has now talked about how Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe told him to leave this summer.

It’s turned out to be a brilliant decision from the young forward.

Lacazette told Balogun to leave Arsenal this summer

Speaking to The Athletic, Balogun said: “I spoke to Laca [Alexandre Lacazette] and Nico (Nicolas Pepe) before making the move.

“Laca told me he thinks it’s a good league for me and that I needed to start playing.

“Then Laca left and I spoke to Nico when we were in America on the pre-season tour. He could see during that time I was a bit upset because I wasn’t playing.

“He just said to stay positive, keep working hard and then he said to maybe think about a loan to the French league, ‘I’m sure you can do well in this league if you apply yourself’.

“He set me a challenge of getting 10 goals in the league and said, ‘If you do that, you’ve made progress’.

“Later on, I heard the interest from France and I’m sure what he said was in the back of my mind somewhere.”

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The injury to Gabriel Jesus may have opened up an unlikely opportunity for Balogun at Arsenal.

A report from 90min suggests Arsenal are considering recalling the 21-year-old in January as cover for the Brazilian.

Arsenal would prefer for him to stay in France, but currently Eddie Nketiah is their only fit centre-forward.

Without Lacazette telling Balogun to leave this summer, he might not be considered to potentially fill in for Jesus for the rest of the season.

Even if he doesn’t return, Arsenal want to secure Balogun’s long-term future at the club.

It makes a lot of sense as he has finally shown he’s capable of scoring plenty of goals at the top level.

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