Premier League • England

Folarin Balogun: Reims loan deal nears as Arsenal make key clause demand and Nicolas Pepe exit plan stalls

Folarin Balogun after the Carabao Cup third round match at the Emirates Stadium, London

Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun is expected to sign for Reims on a season-long loan deal on Monday as the Gunners look to give their young talent more first-team experience.

The 21-year-old is rated highly by the Gunners but finds himself down the pecking order at Emirates Stadium. Indeed, with Mikel Arteta often preferring a 4-2-3-1 formation, they have both Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah as options to play as the lone striker. As such, Arsenal want to send the England Under-21 striker out on loan to help him gain more minutes.

He spent a spell on loan with Middlesbrough last season, where he scored three and made three in 21 appearances. And now a move away from Emirates Stadium beckons again.

Fulham were reportedly among his suitors, but widepsread reports claim a move to Reims is in the offing.

And as per L’Equipe, Balogun will undergo a medical on Monday ahead of signing on loan with the Ligue 1 side.

They are in the market for a new centre forward, having sold Newcastle target Hugo Ekitike to PSG.

Reims had asked Arsenal about a permanent deal, but Arteta was adamant that would not be an option. As such, the deal to take Balogun to France will be a dry loan only, with Reims having no clause to make the move permanent.

Arsenal will hope the spell in France will further enhance his game. New York born frontman Folarin Balogun has played 10 times for the Gunners, scoring twice.

Arteta, meanwhile, still hopes to add to his squad before the transfer window shuts.

Speaking after Saturday’s 6-0 win over Sevilla, he said: “I am happy with where the squad is now but we are still hoping to do something else if the market allows.”

Nicolas Pepe reality hits for Arsenal after Folarin Balogun exit

One man the Gunners do want gone is Nicolas Pepe.

Getting his £140,000 a week salary of the wage bill will certainly help Arsenal in their quest to add to their squad.

The club-record £72m signing has rarely impressed since signing for Arsenal and is looking for a move to kickstart his career.

The Frenchman has been linked with moves to Leeds and Everton this summer. That’s amid claims Arsenal could allow him to leave for just £25m.

However, despite making clear to his agent that he is free to leave, Arsenal are yet to receive any firm offers for Pepe.

The problem for Arsenal too is that Pepe still sees himself as a top player, playing at the top level. And the level of club seemingly keen on him are not enough to tempt him.

The story is picked up by Bleacher Report journalist Dean Jones, speaking to Give Me Sport.

“They’re [Arsenal] trying to find a place for him, basically. There’s intermediaries working on it,” Jones said.

No nibbles for Pepe

“At the moment, there hasn’t really been any nibbles. Arsenal and his agents are trying to find a club that are genuinely interested in him at a certain level. I think that’s been really hard.

“He has got clubs that are interested, but aren’t at the level that Nicolas Pepe wants to be performing.”

As such, Arsenal continue to work with intermediaries to try and move the winger on.

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However, he may need to temper his expectations if he is to seal a move away. With a month left in the window, he still has time on his hands.

One player coming into focus for Arsenal is Cesara Casadei, with Inter Milan making clear their asking price for the teenage midfielder.