Folarin Balogun joined Reims after Mikel Arteta challenged him to ‘grow as a man’ this season.
The England under-21 international was approached by clubs at home and abroad but chose Ligue 1 instead. He has five goals in six league starts.
When Thierry Henry heard he was coming to France, he thought he had a refreshing mindset.
Balogun reflected on his career while on Young Lions duty in England.
Before he moved, Mikel (Arteta) wanted him to grow up.
It was up to me to interpret what he meant by ‘develop as a man’
I’m learning what he meant by moving abroad. It includes off the pitch. I’ll be better prepared to compete when I return.
The striker admits his biggest challenge in the coming months will be learning French to better integrate with his teammates.
“I think it’s important to dive in headfirst, as I’m doing, and hopefully I won’t drown.
“Almost every training session I’m confused about something, so I have to ask a lot of questions and pick up key words.
“Asking questions and trying to recall phrases I’ve heard.
“Sitting on the edge makes it harder to understand. I’m still studying. I’ll keep studying it.
“It’s hard, but I’m trying to fit in. Lessons are an hour per week. I tried doing more but got a headache.
“You need it because there are only three English-speakers at the club. Players speak French.”
Balogun still follows Arsenal and was happy to see a fellow academy graduate make their debut. The attacker knew Ethan Nwaneri, 15.
“I noticed he trained with us a few times,” he told Sky Sports. The ’18 manager and I spoke. He said he’s a good player with a bright future.
“I’d been watching him, so it was great to see him debut. You hope he stays in the first team and keeps impressing.
“Many past players started early. Reiss Nelson, Bukayo (Saka). Early on, they made the team.
“Bukayo debuted at 17,” Arsenal will figure something out. If he works hard, he’ll figure it out.”