According to latest reports, Napoli will be looking to challenge their rivals AC Milan for the signature of Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun. The Serie A champions are expected to lose Victor Osimhen this summer with top European clubs eyeing a move and they have identified the American forward as his ideal replacement.
Folarin Balogun spent the recently concluded season on loan in the Ligue 1, playing for Stade de Reims. He had a terrific campaign with the French outfit, cementing his status as one of the best young strikers in Europe. This has put the Gunners in a huge dilemma of whether to keep him or cash him in.
The 22-year-old scored 21 goals in 37 league appearances for Reims in the 2022-23 campaign (stats via Transfermarkt). He ended the season as the 4th highest scorer in Ligue 1, outscoring even the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar.
As reported by The Mirror, Napoli have expressed interest in signing Arsenal attacker Folarin Balogun. The Gli Azzurri are searching for potential replacements for their star striker, Victor Osimhem, who is expected to leave Italy this summer, and want the USMNT international as his replacement.
The Gunners are willing to let the American leave for a fee of atleast £30 million. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old will have some big shoes to fill in if he signs as Osimhen’s replacement. The Nigerian helped Napoli lift their first Scudetto in 33 years. Balogun has shown the potential to reach the level of the 24-year-old Nigerian striker.
However, Napoli will have to beat Serie A rivals AC Milan who are also very keen on securing the services of Folarin Balogun. Inter Milan are also tracking the attacker while German side RB Leipzig have also expressed interest in a potential move for the player.
🚨 Napoli Eyeing Arsenal's £30m-rated Folarin Balogun as Victor Osimhen Replacement [@johncrossmirror]
🗣️ Balogun, after a prolific loan spell at Stade Reims scoring 21 goals in 38 appearances, attracts interest from AC Milan and Napoli.
🗣️ Arsenal open to a sale at the right… pic.twitter.com/ImOZtTCtFs
— Arsenal Informer (@ars_informer) June 1, 2023
Arsenal eventually slipped in the Premier League title race. They might have missed a golden opportunity this season of winning the league title after nearly two decades as the only real challengers were the ultimate winners Manchester City. It could be due to the squad depth that Guardiola’s side have in comparison to the Gunners.
Is It The Right Call For Arsenal To Let Folarin Balogun Leave?
The Gunners signed Gabriel Jesus from Man City last summer for a fee of £45 million. They signed the Brazilian as an answer to the departing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Jesus did impress when he arrived at the Emirates Stadium. However, his injuries kept him sidelined for a long period of time.
His dribbling created many chances for the team and he also scored a fair amount of goals in the first half of the campaign. But after returning from injury, he failed to revive the goal-scoring form that fans expected from him. The Gunners may look at signing another striker who specialises in poaching.
The American centre-forward has scored a lot of goals considering this is only his first full season with the senior team of a club. Mikel Arteta has been overly reliant on Bukayo Saka and others to score their goals and having a goal poacher could take some pressure off their wingers and Martin Odegaard as well.
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If Napoli or AC Milan eventually decide to make a charge for Folarin Balogun, the North Londoners would use the funds from his sale to sign other players. However, they can avoid spending on a striker if they choose the simplest solution i.e. retaining the 22-year-old academy graduate.
Chance creation has not been an issue for Arsenal as they found themselves finding the net even in cagey and big affairs. However, it does seem like the right call to let the American leave since the club need an experienced striker who will help them scrap wins out of draws. They will be challenging for trophies again next season and having an experienced striker can help their case of winning silverware.
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