FOLARIN Balogun, Middlesbrough’s latest addition to the squad, has revealed that Chris Wilder has been a long-time admirer of his talents and the striker has held talks with the manager during his time at Sheffield United.

A loan move for Folarin Balogun, or Flo as he likes to go by, has been in the works for a few weeks with Boro announcing the move yesterday. However, Wilder was keen to see the youngster play under him as he tried to do at Sheffield United.  

The Arsenal striker has joined the club on loan until the end of the season and goes straight into contention for this weekend’s game at Reading at the Riverside Stadium.

Balogun has been prolific at youth level scoring 15 in 14 appearances across Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy this season. Naturally, the next step is to make the jump up to first-team football with the Gunners keen on Balogun making a temporary switch to Boro.

There was no indication that a move to Bramall Lane was ever close but for the 20-year-old coming into a new environment, the striker said his previous conversations with Wilder helped the move to Teesside run smoothly.

Boro’s new striker said: “I obviously knew the manager. That was something that helped a lot. When he was at Sheffield United, we spoke and then obviously now that he’d moved here, this was just really a no brainer.

“I definitely have wanted to work with him and I’m glad I’ve finally got the opportunity to do that.”

Balogun went on to explain the nature of his previous conversations by revealing: “It was his interest in me as a player. He was just explaining how he views me as a player, how he thinks I could perform. That was the nature of the conversation at the time.

“I wouldn’t say there is a specific line that convinced me. That was just more a case of I was aware of his interest so that was already something that heavily influenced me and then once it’s come round again, for me it was just a no brainer.”

Playing in the Championship represents a step up in standards for Balogun who has been starved of game time in the first-team with Arsenal. With a flurry of players ahead of him in the pecking order at the Gunners, finding a loan move to the second tier is something he feels is the natural progression in his career.

Balogun added: “That’s the next stage of my development. I’ve been in the youth team for a little while and I’ve improved but now, there is obviously the next stage. Hopefully I can do it on a first-team level and that’s the next stage for me.

“I would describe myself as a player who likes to entertain, likes to score, likes to get assists. I think the main thing is enjoying it and what comes with it is obviously the entertaining part.

“It’s something that I’ve prepared for. I train everyday for moments like these so I’ve definitely prepared for it. I feel like it’s something that will be demanding and I’ll have to adapt to it but I would also say that I’m ready for it.”

Balogun will train with his team mates today with the squad making preparations for the visit of the Royals this weekend. Boro go into the game sitting in seventh place just outside the Championship play-off places.