How Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun would fit with USMNT after breakout season

For 13 years, Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun has been in the public eye. The New York-born striker’s family moved to England when he was two years old, eventually joining the Gunners’ academy at the age of 8. For more than a decade, while Arsenal’s studies have progressed, he has developed the likes of Robin van Persie, Olivier Giroud and Peter. -Emerick Aubameyang

This has been his breakthrough season, scoring 10 goals with French Ligue 1 side Reims during the first half of the season. This is enough to be the club’s top scorer and open the debate as to what his international future lies, as Balogun is eligible to represent England, the United States and Nigeria.

And while Arsenal have yet to recall him as a replacement for the injured Gabriel Jesus, his blistering form has revealed the lucrative potential of the transfer market for teams in need of footwear.

What made Balogun so successful in France, and how would it fit into the national program of the US film Desperate Striker (if the US chose it)? Let’s dive in.

Player profile

At the end of the 2019–20 season, the then 19-year-old Balogun had yet to make one senior club appearance for Arsenal, despite having represented both England and the United States in the national youth teams, most notably (respectively) at the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship and Václav Ježek Youth (U-18) Equestrian Games.

The 2020-21 campaign provided his career with a spectacular breakthrough: Balogun opened the club’s scoring record in the Europa League stage, before winning a winter loan to Middlesbrough for more regular match action. Playing under Chris Wilder at Boro, Balogun bagged three goals while making three assists in 18 matches.

The return of Arsenal thought that a year with Stade de Reims could accelerate the development curve in Ligue 1, as Guglielmo Saliba had at the other end of the pitch.

What happened It’s been a dream move for all parties. Speaking with Athletic Last month, Balogun said former Arsenal teammates Alexander Lacazette and Nicolas Pépé had each suggested they try their hand at the French first division for more frequent involvement in the league.

“(Pepé) just said to stay positive, keep working, then he said to think maybe about the French league. “You can definitely do well in this league if you focus on yourself,” said Balogun in December. “He challenged me to have ten goals in the league and said, ” If you do, you’ve progressed.”

As it turned out, Pépé’s “challenge” hardly seemed urgent. The striker scored his tenth goal of the Ligue 1 campaign with a brace against Rennes in Reims’ return to action following the French Cup. He did so despite only scoring 19 tackles, his first league start since late August. The teams following the match on January 2nd with and reported nerve endingsRemensis finished 1-1 in the day at Insulam.

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So what changes?

In all likelihood, Balogun may not have been set up because of his success in the previous loan. He was asked to lead the line for the team in the promotion battle, no small task for the introduction of the first senior player. Having joined the Ligue 1 side, Balogun was able to impress more.

It stands 2021-22* 2022-23**

Shots / XC (% on target)

2.2 (54.2%)

3.11 (46.5%)

xG/90 (npxG/90)






It touches the floor of the pen / 90






Progressive runs / 90



* With Middlesbrough (EFL Laughter)
** With Remensis (Ligue 1)
Data provided by Wyscout

When difficult shots came from Boro, he had to put them on the boards. He also completed the adventure to his hope, although it was quite a small campaign. Everything pales in comparison to what he managed during the first part of the Ligurian 1 campaign. Even with a 3-for-3 record from the penalty spot, Balogun managed 90 non-expected penalty goals in overtime.

He’s been given even more license to step up his role, racking up a touch in the box over the course of two games, being caught in a similar clip offside — showing greater license to break behind the line, which isn’t bad — and adding almost a full addition to his career progression per game. There aren’t just any significant improvements in his championship output, either. It is the type of profile that supports the striker from the ranks and files of the loan army into a coveted young striker.

Here, Balogun’s percentage figures are compared in the following table to their positional peers in the “big 5” leagues, the Champions League and the Europa League over the last 365 days. Balogun played 1160 minutes in that timeframe.

It stands # For 90 minutes Percentile

Not intended as a punishment






Total blows exact west



npxG + expected help



Arrow-creating activities



Progressive jump



He took progressive steps



Dimanat will be completed



Data provided by fbref dot com

If there is an area for improvement, it would be in the aerial game. Listed at 5-feet 10 (1.55 meters), Balogun is at the end of the header with Remensi not adept at getting the ball out of pieces or floating through the play. Smarterscout data rates players from zero to 99 depending on how often they perform a certain action. It also tells how effective they are for her compared to others in her position.

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However, he does well when he takes the ball to the opponents’ feet, while also putting pressure on the Remsen front-line. While I would like to see a more rounded top, the number of forward targets decreases with each passing year.

Balogun seems to stand out in the modern archetype – even when factoring in the difference in quality between League 1 and the Premier League, as data from smarterscout suggests. his pizza chart.

International futures

Representing England and the US in the youth ranks and holding Nigerian eligibility, Balogun said Ligue 1’s website In the month of November he would decide who he would represent. While recent years have seen high pressure decisions made by the likes of Sergino Dest, Yunus Musah, Gaga Slonina and Malik Tillman among others, Balogun has been infatuated with speculation.

“I don’t have a problem,” Balogun said. “It is important to ask and accept these questions. I am going to decide soon and that decision will not depend on the tools or people, but on what is convenient for me. We will talk quietly with my family.”

He spoke well about the US experience in the same interview.

“So, when I was 17, the US Federation offered me a friendly tournament in the Czech Republic in the summer,” said Balogun. “I had played in England in the U-17 Euros a few months ago, but after talking with my family I decided to go. And we won the tournament! I had a good experience, because I realized I could see a different way of playing and other methods. I’m also in contact with several people there.

While the family is deliberating about its options in private, others can examine its options in the public arena. England’s striker stable ahead of the 2026 World Cup is looking good, as Harry Kane will be 32 and Marcus Rashford just 28. There isn’t a bright second in line among the younger options beyond Balogun (who is now 21), like Aston. Cameron Villa’s Archer, Leeds’ Joe Gelhardt, and Tottenham’s Dane Scarlett have yet to establish themselves at club level.

Nigeria has arguably the highest pool of the three nations, with Napoli ace Victor Osimhen leading a group that includes Ademola Lookman, Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho and Terem Moffi, who also has 10 goals in the ongoing Ligue 1 season with Lorient.

But for the US, no position has been weaker in the past five years than striker. During the Gregg Berhalter era, the team opted to play its strikers in more subdued roles, asking them to play in the build-up stages and create opportunities for the wings and themselves.

While Jesús Ferreira has been the top option in a deep-lying role all summer, he struggled in his only World Cup start, a start against the Netherlands in the round of 16. Josh Sargent looked much better alongside Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, but was overlooked. factor for his scoring chances before missing the knockout defeat due to injury. Haji Wright has become more of a goal-scorer option, but has struggled to impress in the tournament after a fine debut against Wales.

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All three represented different approaches to the position; all three were tried. In Balogun, the goal was to find a white whale: someone who could be a well-rounded and well-rounded striker in today’s upgrade options.

Balogun vs. US’s 2012 World Cup Strikers, 2022-23*

Balogun vs. US hitting the 2012 World Cup

Balogun Ferreira Sgt Wright

Shots / XC (% on target)

3.11 (46.5%)

2.58 (49.4%)

2.08 (56.3%)

2.37 (35.9%)






It touches the floor of the pen / 90





Next passes / 90 (% accurate)

3.4 (57.4%)

6.27 (53.7%)

3.37 (61.5%)

1.76 (69%)

Dimanat / 90 (% victory)

2.96 (53.7%)

1.48 (49%)

3.16 (52.1%)

4.56 (52%)

Air two (% won)

2.53 (20%)

1.04 (19.4%)

5.58 (38.8%)

5.6 (41.3%)

He recovered in opp





Data provided by Wyscout
* All data for 2022-23 league action except for Ferreira, which uses the full 2022 MLS season

Balogun not only fired more shots per 90, but put a decent amount of shots on the boards. Even his non-penalty xG of 0.52 would be tops in this category, not to mention his 0.64 slash factor on three penalty kicks.

The rest of the data shows how Remis behaved, even if you don’t care about Ligue. 1. The following figures illustrate the difference between Ferreira—a profoundly prostrate if ever there was one—and Wright, several ex. classic versus leading the target forward. In that spectrum, Balogun is almost the same as Sargent, which the number of dimensional attempts confirms. Unlike the rest of Norwich, however, Balogun still has the ability to display a lot in the air, while working less on the frontline to defend.

However, based on Balogun’s numbers alone, he would represent a better goal threat than the current stable of US strikers without sacrificing many of the factors that helped Sargent (and, qualifying, Ricardo Pepi) become the best options between Pulisic, Weah and the rest. wing options

While January may not see Balogun change clubs, his spell in France has brought his game to another level. Whether he joins Musah and Tillman in leading the U.S. to the 2026 World Cup or becomes one of the program’s big near misses like Neven Subotić or Giuseppe Rossi remains to be seen.

However he leans, it’s clear he’s finally got his senior career on track – whether Mikel Arteta’s plans to move on to Arsenal or not.

(Photo: Gareth Copley / Getty Images)


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