Folarin Balogun ‘throwed himself into the deep end’ on loan from Reims

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Folarin Balogun admits he hit rock bottom in Reims as he tries to conquer the language barrier and Ligue 1.

The Arsenal forward has five goals in six outings on loan at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, although he is fourth in the final after a win from eight games.

He received praise from Thierry Henry for heading to France and received advice from teammate Nicolas Pepe, now on loan at Nice, before moving on.

Balogun is now with the England under-21s ahead of Thursday’s friendly in Italy and Tuesday’s game with Germany in Sheffield, and he believes the jump to France has already changed him.

“I think it’s very important to hit rock bottom, as I’m trying to do, and I hope I don’t drown,” said the 21-year-old.

“In almost every practice there is something that confuses me, so I have to ask a lot of questions, I have to catch keywords and that’s how I’m learning the language at the moment.

“Just asking questions and, if I’m not sure about something, trying to remember phrases I’ve heard before.

“If you sit on the edge, it will take you longer to understand things. I’m still learning the language. I will learn it for a long time.

Folarin Balogun scored five goals in six matches on loan at Reims (Martin Rickett/PA)

(PA wire)

“It’s difficult, but I’m trying my best to integrate with everyone. Classes (French) are once a week for one hour. I tried to do a little more, but it started to give me a headache.

“Actually, you need a lot, because maybe there are only three English-speaking people in the club. The players only speak French.

“There are times when I ask simple things like, ‘Can you pass me this water?’ and he’s looking at me thinking, ‘what are you saying?’

“Then you definitely need to learn the language. It helps me mature a lot because you’re just defending yourself.

“Before I moved, Mikel (Arteta) just wanted me to develop as a man. It was like an open answer and it was up to me to interpret what I meant by ‘develop as a man’.

“As I move abroad, I’m starting to understand what he meant by that. That doesn’t just mean on the field, but also off the field. I think when I come back I will be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.”

Meanwhile, Yaya Toure is with the Young Lions this week as he continues to gain coaching experience.

Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure was with the England under-21 squad this week to gain more experience (Martin Rickett/PA)

(PA file)

The former Manchester City midfielder, who is the manager of Tottenham’s Under-16s, was not involved with training and had an observation briefing at St George’s Park.

“He knows Joel (Lescott) well and has a connection with John McDermott, so it’s a good chance for him,” said boss Lee Carsley. “It’s always nice to have players like that around our players, inspirational ones who have been there and done that.

“He’s a very quiet guy, he doesn’t sit around telling stories of what he’s won. He’s very humble. He is just supporting and spent two days with us.”

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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