Folarin Balogun is now the top scorer in Ligue 1 for Reims following his stunning hat-trick on Wednesday night.
Arsenal reportedly had the ‘option of recalling’ Folarin Balogun during the January transfer window from his loan with Reims. Balogun has long been tipped for a bright future at the Emirates and he’s taken Ligue 1 by storm this season.
He made headlines once again on Wednesday as he moved to the top of the goalscoring charts – ahead of both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – after scoring an incredible hat-trick in Reims’ comeback win over Lorient. Only a few days earlier, Balogun scored a last-minute equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain.
It’s prompted some queries from Arsenal fans on why Mikel Arteta didn’t opt to bring him back to north London. Gabriel Jesus’ injury has left Arteta short of options in attack with Eddie Nketiah the only other recognised central striker at the club.
The Brazilian’s absence hasn’t cost Arsenal so far with the Gunners increasing their lead at the top of the table and Nketiah has played a key role in that regard. But Jesus has only just started light training as he continues his recovery and is still some weeks away from being available to make his return.
He’s not expected back until March at the earliest, meaning he could still miss five more Premier League matches at the least. His injury sparked speculation that Arsenal would look to bolster their attacking options in the January window.
Leandro Trossard arrived from Brighton, but he will likely be used out wide as opposed to centrally to fill in for Nketiah. The Athletic claim Arsenal had the ‘option of recalling’ Balogun from his season-long loan at Reims.
But the Gunners ultimately turned down the opportunity to bring back the in-form striker to the Emirates. It’s reported that bringing in a temporary replacement for Jesus was ‘never under discussion’.
And while retaining the option to recall Balogun, it’s said Arsenal would have ‘incurred certain financial penalties’. The report added that Arsenal also didn’t feel it would help Balogun by taking him away from Reims where he has broken out into a bright talent.
The Gunners adopted a similar stance during William Saliba’s long loan spell away from the club. Arteta faced regular questions about Saliba’s future at the club and there was some speculation that the centre-back was looking to seal a move away from Arsenal.
But it all paid off eventually with Saliba returning from his long loan spell in Ligue 1 at the start of this season, playing a key role in helping Arteta’s side sit top of the table. Arsenal will likely be hoping for a similar impact from Balogun with a full season out on loan at Reims.