Folarin Balogun says he opted to join Ligue 1 side Reims in response to a ‘challenge’ from Mikel Arteta, who urged him to ‘develop as a man’ this season.
The arrival of Gabriel Jesus and the presence of Eddie Nketiah only saw the youngster drop further down the pecking order at Arsenal and it was apparent a decision had to be made.
In search of regular gametime, Balogun did get offers from several Premier League sides but chose to take the difficult route of an adventure in France, which is not usually common for young players who have plied their trade in England from the onset.
So far, Balogun has hit the ground running five goals in six league starts and has been named one of the revelations of Ligue 1.
Thierry Henry recently praised the youngster’s boldness to move to France, saying he was pleased with his mindset: “When I heard he was coming to France, it made me think he has a refreshing mindset.
Now in England or international duty with the Young Lions, Balogun reflected on how life in France has been so far as well as a chat with Mikel Arteta before he made up his mind on the loan move.
Speaking on life in France so far, he said: “I think it’s very important to just throw yourself in at the deep end, as I’m trying to do, and hopefully I don’t drown,” said the 21-year-old.”
“Pretty much every training session there’s something I’m confused about so I’ve got to ask a lot of questions, I’ve got to pick up on key words and that’s how I’m learning the language at the moment.”
“Just asking questions and, if I’m not sure on something, trying to remember phrases I’ve heard before. If you sit on the edge, it will take longer to understand things. I’m still learning the language. I’m going to be learning it for a long time.”
“It’s difficult but I’m trying my best to integrate myself with everyone. The (French) lessons are once a week for an hour. I tried to do a bit longer but it started to give me a headache.”
“You actually need it a lot, because there are maybe only three English speaking people at the club. The players just speak French. There’s a few times I’m asking for simple things like, ‘can you pass me that water?’ and he’s looking at me thinking, ‘what are you saying?”
“So you definitely need to learn the language. It helps me mature a lot because you’re just fending for yourself.”
Though it was a bold decision from the youngster, it has paid off well for all parties involved. Regular minutes will do him much good for his development and hopefully he can become of age in no time to challenge for a starting berth at the Emirates.