Uncertainty surrounding the future of one of Arsenal’s brightest academy products could be set for another twist after the Gunners could be prepared to soften their stance surrounding the likely summer sale of Folarin Balogun.
The 22-year-old Hale End graduate remains adamant regarding his desire to leave this summer to find first-team minutes away from the Emirates, but Arsenal’s hardline £50m valuation has thus far warded away potential suitors in the wake of his strong loan spell with Stade de Reims in 2022-23 that saw him hit 21 goals in Ligue 1 under young boss Will Still.
Multiple clubs on the continent as well as in England were linked with the United States international earlier this window, with RB Leipzig, Inter Milan, AC Milan, West Ham United, and Crystal Palace all viewing Balogun as a potential transfer avenue.
But due to Arsenal’s set price which they have yet to come down on, RBL moved on to Loïs Openda, Milan the same with Noah Okafor and a number of other attacking signings, while Inter appears content with the previous free deal for French international Marcus Thuram, and West Ham and Crystal Palace have cooled in their own right.
Now, according to The Mirror’s John Cross, the Gunners may have to come down on their valuation for the Brooklyn-born striker as AS Monaco, Fulham, and shockingly, Chelsea, have drummed up interest in the last week.
Fulham is in the market for another striker despite the purchase of Raúl Jiménez after Aleksandar Mitrović sealed his departure to Roshn Saudi League giants Al-Hilal, while Monaco lacks trusted central options and is on the cusp of tackling the potential loss of star striker Wissam Ben Yedder after the Frenchman was charged with rape last week.
But the biggest surprise comes from rivals Chelsea, who, despite spending close to £900m since the arrival of Blueco last summer, are still in need of attacking reinforcements, with new boss Mauricio Pochettino stating his desire to sign another striker before the window closes.
At current, the Blues boast Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja but have ostracized Romelu Lukaku from the senior team by mutual consent while sending January signing David Datro Fofana on a season-long loan to Bundesliga outfit Union Berlin.
With Christopher Nkunku out until the new year, and only Jackson trusted by Pochettino, Chelsea could turn to Balogun after their reported interest was confirmed to be genuine. And with the window closing in a little over a week, Arsenal could be forced to reduce their desired fee by almost £10m if they are to successfully part ways while avoiding potential internal strife.
It goes without saying that the club, and its fans, would rather sell abroad or to Fulham than give a bright young talent to Chelsea, but as things stand, the club may not have a choice depending on what bids arrive in the coming days.