Friday, September 29, 2023

Folarin Balogun to compete with forgotten ex-Liverpool man who is tearing up Ligue 1

Incoming Monaco signing Folarin Balogun looks set to compete with ex-Liverpool star Takumi Minamino up front this season.

Balogun is on the brink of signing for Monaco this summer, undergoing a medical at the French club on Saturday.

Balogun is on the way to Monaco from Arsenal for a record feeGetty

Arsenal have reached an agreement over a fee for the striker worth £35m with add-ons – a record sale for the Gunners.

It comes after a sensational season in Ligue 1 for Balogun after spending last year on loan at Reims.

The United States international scored 21 times in the league but he will have to battle for the top spot along with Minamino, who had a short stint at Liverpool.

But that will be no easy feat after the 28-year-old started the season in red-hot form.

No one in Europe’s top five leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A) has registered more combined goals and assists.

In three games, the Japan international has netted three and assisted two as Monaco lead the Ligue 1 table with two wins and a draw.

Only Real Madrid superstar Jude Bellingham can match that so far this season.

Minamino signed for Liverpool in January 2020 after impressing Jurgen Klopp in a Champions League match against the Reds while playing for RB Salzburg.

Minamino has been in jaw-dropping form this season alreadyGetty

Minamino was largely a fringe player at LiverpoolAFP

At the cost of £7.25m, the transfer was hailed as a bargain but the forward could not make a lasting impression at Anfield.

He only made 30 appearances in the Premier League across three seasons at Liverpool while he was loaned to Southampton for the latter part of the 2020/21 campaign.

Eventually, he was allowed to leave for more first-team football in 2022 when he joined Monaco for around £15m.

And he has since become a hit in Ligue 1, utilising his vast talents as a speedy but technical operator up the pitch.

Balogun, meanwhile, will generate needed funds for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal after a big summer of spending.

The Gunners smashed their club-record transfer after signing Declan Rice for £105m earlier in the summer from West Ham.

As well as the England international, Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and David Raya have been brought in as well.

Whether Arteta utilises the money made from Balogun remains to be seen.

But further outgoings are expected including Rob Holding, Nicolas Pepe, Nuno Tavares and Cedric Soares while Kieran Tierney is on the verge of moving to Real Sociedad on loan.

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