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Folarin Balogun explains the mysterious note Mikel Arteta gave him prior to loaning him out

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Folarin Balogun explains the mysterious note Mikel Arteta gave him prior to loaning him out
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Folarin Balogun admits he has thrown himself into the deep end at Reims as he tries to conquer the language barrier and Ligue 1.

The Arsenal striker has five goals in six starts on loan at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, although they are fourth bottom after one win in eight games.

He has earned praise from Thierry Henry for going to France and took advice from team-mate Nicolas Pepe, now on loan at Nice, before moving.

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

‘I think it’s very important to just throw yourself in at the deep end, as I’m trying to do, and hopefully I don’t drown,” said the 21-year-old.

‘Pretty much every training session there’s something I’m confused about so I’ve got to ask a lot of questions, I’ve got to pick up on key words and that’s how I’m learning the language at the moment.

‘Just asking questions and, if I’m not sure on something, trying to remember phrases I’ve heard before. If you sit on the edge, it will take longer to understand things. I’m still learning the language. I’m going to be learning it for a long time.

‘It’s difficult but I’m trying my best to integrate myself with everyone. The (French) lessons are once a week for an hour. I tried to do a bit longer but it started to give me a headache.

‘You actually need it a lot, because there are maybe only three English speaking people at the club. The players just speak French. There’s a few times I’m asking for simple things like, ‘can you pass me that water?’ and he’s looking at me thinking, ‘what are you saying?’

‘So you definitely need to learn the language. It helps me mature a lot because you’re just fending for yourself.

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

‘By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant by that. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.’

Meanwhile, Yaya Toure has been with the Young Lions this week as he continues to gain experience as a coach.

The former Manchester City midfielder, who is Tottenham’s Under-16s coach, has not been involved with coaching and has had a watching brief at St George’s Park.

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

‘He’s quite a quiet guy, he’s not sitting round telling stories of what he’s won. He’s very humble. He’s just supporting and has spent two days with us.’


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