Premier League • England

Modest Arsenal price tag sees Newcastle and Euro giant prepare raids for electric forward

Arsenal forwards Bukayo Saka and Folarin Balogun

Arsenal forwards Bukayo Saka and Folarin Balogun

A modest price tag placed on Arsenal frontman Folarin Balogun is attracting the interest of a European giant, while a journalist has claimed Newcastle may yet bring him up north.

The 21-year-old is in the midst of a truly remarkable purple patch in France. Balogun was loaned out to Ligue 1 side Reims for the 2022-23 campaign and has proceeded to set the French top flight ablaze.

Balogun has notched 15 goals in 25 outings thus far, a figure that puts him fourth in the Ligue 1 top scorers chart. For context he’s just three goals behind Kylian Mbappe (18) and two ahead of both Lionel Messi and Neymar (13 each).

Reims were unable to secure an option to buy in Balogun’s loan, meaning he’ll return to the Emirates at season’s end.

At that stage, Mikel Arteta will face an agonising decision on what to do with the academy graduate.

Arteta’s undisputed No 1 centre-forward is Gabriel Jesus who is nearing a return from knee surgery. Beyond the Brazilian, Eddie Nketiah has proven himself a capable deputy, while Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard have deputised up top in recent matches.

Selling such a promising hitman like Balogun is clearly a decision Arsenal must carefully consider. However, if he can generate a sizeable fee to put towards summer transfers and is not in Arteta’s plans, an exit would make sense.

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Newcastle joined by AC Milan in Balogun race

Journalist Steve Kay recently reported Newcastle are sizing up Balogun. In his words, the Magpies are ‘considering making a bid’ in the next transfer window.

How much Balogun might cost if given the greenlight to go by Arsenal wasn’t stated. However, a fresh report out of Italy has shed light on that front, as well as putting AC Milan in the mix.

Gazzetta dello Sport (as cited by Sport Witness) report Arsenal’s current valuation of Balogun is a somewhat modest €20m-€25m. That equates to roughly £17.6m-£22.1m.

That price range is unlikely to deter either Newcastle or Milan given Balogun is blazing a trail through Ligue 1 defences right now. However, the report acknowledges Balogun’s price may well rise between now and June if his red-hot form continues.

Milan recently ousted Spurs from the Champions League and a deep run into that competition will fill their coffers ahead of a Balogun move.

Many of Milan’s current options up front are ageing, with Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic 36 and 41 respectively. They have Divock Origi in reserve, though he’s largely flopped since leaving Liverpool last summer.

As such, the Rossoneri are seeking a far younger talent who knows precisely where the goal is. The man they’ve ‘circled in red’ is Arsenal’s Balogun.

The more bidders that enter the frame, the higher the fee Arsenal will be able to command.

However, it’s still not certain whether the Gunners actually want to cash in at present. That will become a whole lot clearer if and when Newcastle and Milan make their moves.

Balogun is under contract in north London until 2025, meaning Arsenal are under no pressure to cash in just yet.

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