With the summer transfer window likely to be here before you know it, Arsenal will already be putting plans in place for how they could potentially strengthen Mikel Arteta’s armoury ahead of the 2021/22 season.
A left-back and a new central attacking-midfielder are likely to be at the forefront of transfer guru Edu’s plans with the club having missed out on signing a left-back during the January window and only signing Martin Odegaard on loan.
Whilst the Gunners are highly likely to try and do all they can to bolster those two positions, there is almost certainly going to be departures as well.
One of those who could be in line for an exit from the Emirates Stadium this summer, the biggest name is young striker Folarin Balogun. The youngster, who was born in New York, is out-of-contract in north London in just a few months time and is yet to commit his future to the club, sparking fears that the Gunners could be poised to lose one of their most promising talents.
Over the weekend, no shortage of Gunners supporters believed that they had spotted a clear hint that the striker has already decided to leave the club, as he wiped his Instagram account of all the images he had on there, including those in Arsenal clothing.
That has left many supporters convinced that he will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the campaign, despite manager Arteta recently admitting that he was confident the striker would put pen to paper on a new deal.
A few weeks ago, the Spaniard said: “I’m still very positive that Flo is going to stay with us and it’s what we’re trying to do as a club, and it’s what I’m trying to do as a manager.
“As far as I know from last week, the player wants to be here, so I’m positive. I think he’s made some big progress in a few months.”
However, taking into account his actions on social media over the weekend, the confidence of several Gunners fans has faded.
Therefore, with the prospect of an exit from the Emirates Stadium this summer looming large, where could the youngster end up playing his club football next season if he does leave? Here, football.london has taken a close look at three possible destinations.
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League last season, losing the Championship Play-Off Final at the hands of Fulham, the Bees are knocking on the door of the top-flight this term.
After securing back-to-back wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City recently, the Bees currently occupy second place in the table ahead of the run-in soon getting under way.
Should the Bees gain promotion or not, they are likely to face a challenge to retain the services of Ivan Toney, who has notched 25 goals in the Championship this season, meaning a new striker may be at the very top of their wish list come the summer.
Should they gain promotion, they are likely to hold an interest in Balogun again, especially if he is on the search for a new club. He was linked with a move to the Brentford Community Stadium last summer but the Bees were unable to strike a deal.
With his potential said to be very high, Brentford may see him as the perfect long-term replacement for Toney if they secure promotion to the top flight.
Back in January, reports in some parts claimed that Balogun had agreed a pre-contract deal with German heavyweights RB Leipzig.
However, that was not accurate and no deal has been signed between the two parties, although there is no doubting that the German club are admirers of his talents.
Leipzig have not been afraid to take punts on young, British players in recent seasons, with the likes of Ethan Ampadu and Ademola Lookman all spending time with the Bundesliga club.
Leipzig already have the likes of Yussuf Poulsen and Hwang Hee-chan within their attacking ranks but the prospect of signing Balogun in a cut-price deal, with only compensation being required if he does not sign a new deal at Arsenal, may not be an opportunity they wish to turn down.
Another overseas club that are reported to be interested in Balogun are French outfit Rennes, according to a report by the Mirror, as cited by the Daily Star, last month.
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A handful of talented, young English players have flocked to France in recent years, including Reo Griffiths and Josh Maja, who has recently returned to England to join Fulham.
Griffiths left Tottenham Hotspur to join Lyon whilst Maja joined Bordeaux from Sunderland.
With those two having made the move, Balogun may closely asses the careers of the duo before deciding on his next move if Rennes were to come calling.