In the first game of the season last year, Arsenal and the young forward of Nigerian descent had a reality check
A star with the Arsenal U-21s, Folarin ‘Flo’ Balogun had fire in his bag and ambition in his legs. He was one of the finest finishers in the Arsenal age-grades and had a lengthened discussion on his contract renewal at the club.
Arsenal, by all indications hold him highly and convinced him to commit his future to the club. A loan move to Middlesbrough gave him an idea of what it means when the faces are not familiar but at Reims in the Ligue 1, Balogun better understands what it means when the language isn’t familiar also.
“Pretty much every training session there’s something where I’m confused about!
“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?’
“The lessons are once a week at the minute, for an hour. I tried to do a bit longer but it started to give me a headache.
“It helps me mature a lot because literally you’re just fending for yourself. You have to try to communicate in different ways if you can’t speak the language.
“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,” he told the Sun.
Despite the difficulties, the forward who is eligible for Nigeria through his parents, has scored five league goals in six starts. It’s by no measure a mean feat.
He said conversations with Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta were initially unclear but since he moved to the Ligue 1, there’s greater clarity on what he meant. It’s colder outside.
“Before I moved, Mikel just wanted me to develop as a man.
“It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant.
“He is a very direct person if he wants to get a message to you in the moment, but I also think he thinks long term. I feel like that is his plan.
“By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant.
“It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.”