Arsenal man Milan’s ‘main target’ amid £26m uncertainty; Xhaka to confirm future ‘next week’

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Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun celebrates his goal for Reims Credit: Alamy
Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun celebrates his goal for Reims Credit: Alamy

Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun is AC Milan’s top priority ahead of the summer transfer window, according to reports in Italy.

Balogun joined Arsenal in 2011 at the age of eight but has struggled to establish himself in the club’s first team.

He has made ten appearances for the Gunners, half of which has come in the Europa League.

After an underwhelming loan spell at Middlesbrough in the second half of last season, Balogun made the temporary switch to French club Stade Reims in the 2022 summer transfer window.

His loan spell has gone better than anyone could have imagined. In 35 Ligue 1 matches, the 21-year-old has scored 20 goals, with his strike against Angers over the weekend making him the first under-21 player this season to score 20 or more goals in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

Balogun’s incredible form is obviously good news for Arsenal, but Mikel Arteta will have a tough decision to make in the summer.

With Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah already at the club, it is expected that Balogun will leave, which is a big shame considering his output for Reims in 2022/23.

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Marseille, AC Milan and RB Leipzig are all believed to be interested in signing Balogun.

And according to Calciomercato, Milan have ‘several names’ on their shortlist but the recruitment team ‘likes’ the American striker ‘more than the others’.

The Rossoneri have arranged negotiations with the youngster’s agents before the campaign comes to an end as they look to seal the deal quickly amidst ‘competition from foreign clubs including Leipzig’.

Arsenal value Balogun at €30m (£26m), which is a fairly decent price, especially for Arsenal if he turns out to be a one-season wonder…

Meanwhile, Gunners vice-captain Granit Xhaka has said he will confirm where his future lies when the Premier League season ends.

Xhaka is expected to join Bayer Leverkusen in the summer for €15m after seven years at the Emirates.

Speaking to Standard Sport about his future, the Swiss international said: “You will know the latest next week, for sure.

“I think they (the fans) deserve that and I do myself as well. We have one more week of this Premier League season, the first thing is I want to enjoy [it] and, for sure, you guys will know next week what happens with my future.”

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Xhaka has divided opinion throughout the Arsenal fan base since his move from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016.

He is now a fan favourite given his performances on the pitch in a box-to-box role, where he has thrived under Arteta.

“I mean, how I say it, where I have been three years ago and how I came back and my turnaround, maybe,” Xhaka added.

“It makes me proud, makes me happy as well. But this is my story, this is my path.

“Of course, if next week we know much more what happen with my future, I will be thankful for the fans because how they treat me after this, I didn’t expect that if I am honest.

“I am thankful for that and I want to give them something back [for] maybe my last game on Sunday.

“I wanted to do something special this season, maybe with a title, but it’s not the time. Let’s see what the future speaks about it.

“Where I have been three years ago and where I am today, I think I grew up like a person, like a player and I got the respect back, what I think I deserve as well from the fans.

“We have worked 11 months very well, I think. Let’s enjoy the last game at home.”

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