Former French giants Stade de Reims are in the midst of a bit of a rebirth in champagne country during the current 2022-23 Ligue 1 season under young manager Will Still, with Les rouges et blancs sitting ninth in the table after only tasting defeat on five occasions and coming off an 18-match unbeaten run that was recently ended by Olympique de Marseille before the current international break.
A club that has featured some of the biggest names in French football history in years past, the likes of Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine both plied their respective trades in the northeast of France, while the club has remained committed to developing bright talents and is credited with the emergence of Hugo Eketike, who is now on the books with Paris Saint-Germain.
Though not one of their own, on-loan striker Folarin Balogun has captured countless hearts and minds at Stade Auguste-Delaune this season while remaining in the hunt to top the league’s goalscoring charts come the end of the season on the back of his 17 goals; just two adrift of joint-leaders Kylian Mbappé and Jonathan David.
But with Balogun’s developmental loan away from Arsenal going better than anyone could have dreamed, the ultimate conundrum for the 21-year-old striker remains whether he returns to north London to fight for minutes with Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard, and Eddie Nketiah, looks for another loan for the 2023-24 campaign, or look to move on from the club on a permanent basis while allowing Arsenal to extract a big fee for a prized asset.
And according to the player himself, there is no guarantee on what direction he will settle on before sitting down with the club and trying to hash out the future steps he may take with the Premier League leaders in a situation that draws quite a few parallels with current star center-back William Saliba.
When speaking with Matt Spiro and Ligue 1′s official website, Balogun noted the fact that he must go back to north London and eventually enter into discussions surrounding his future, while also noting that anything can happen in football when it comes to other opportunities presenting themselves.
Yeah I mean, contractually I have to go back. Because the loan was only for one year so that was always the agreement. But I wouldn’t, um, I’m not sure what is going to happen in the future. A lot could happen in football, a lot could change, and it just depends on the conversations we have between me and the club in the summer, and we’ll see what happens.
Yeah I mean there’s no door that’s closed. Of course I have had a good year here and to a lot of people it makes sense for me to come back here. So yeah I mean I don’t know what the future will bring. But definitely I would advise young players to come out here. It’s a really, really tough league, a league that will help you to improve. You get to play in crazy atmospheres. If you’re ready to take yourself out of your comfort zone, I would advise any young player, I would advise any young player to come here.— Folarin Balogun, speaking with BeIN Sports & Ligue1 journalist Matt Spiro