Monaco remain in pole position to secure the services of in demand United States men's national team striker Folarin Balogun despite burgeoning interest from Chelsea. Negotiations between the Ligue 1 side and Arsenal have progressed positively over recent days and although a second formal offer has not been submitted, CBS Sports sources view Monaco as the front runners in what has been a hotly contested race for the 22-year-old.
Dialogue between the clubs has focused on the structure of payments and the expected second bid from Monaco, revealed by CBS Sports last week, is not expected to hit Arsenal's price tag of $63 million, although additional clauses and bonuses could bring it close to that value. So far, there has been no indication that the north London club are ready to compromise on their target figure. Given interest from elsewhere it is viewed as unlikely that they would until nearer to deadline day on Friday, September 1.
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Chelsea have also engaged in exploratory dialogue with both representatives of Balogun and Arsenal, according to CBS Sports sources, over a potential deal with the Blues who are eager to strengthen their forward line after an injury to Christopher Nkunku. Fulham, flush with cash after selling Aleksandar Mitrovic to Al-Hilal for over $63 million, have also been credited with a strong interest in the forward. A revival of interest from Inter cannot also be entirely discounted, though for the time being Arsenal sources view them as out of the race.
Such a wealth of suitors leaves Mikel Arteta's side in an enviable position as they push for a deal that would constitute their record sale by a significant margin. With nine days remaining in the window Arsenal's current focus is on extracting the best deal for themselves and Balogun, even if that comes from a perceived rival; there is not necessarily a higher price that Chelsea have to pay for the forward's services than anyone else. For all their on field rivalry, deals between the two clubs have rarely been particularly acrimonious, with Jorginho and Kai Havertz having made the move from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates Stadium this year.
The 21 goals Balogun scored in 37 Ligue 1 games on loan at Reims last season established him as a hot commodity across Europe, though they have not been enough to convince Arteta that he deserves a role in his Arsenal side. Having returned to training after a foot injury, the Hale End academy graduate has not featured in the matchday squad for either of the Gunners first two games of the season,Arteta is a great admirer of Nketiah's work ethic and his penalty area instincts and despite interest earlier in the summer from Premier League clubs, the young striker looks set for a significant role in the coming months even if his starting spot will likely go to Gabriel Jesus once the Brazilian returns to fitness.
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