Folarin Balogun has had an interesting career to date and the Arsenal forward is now out on loan in Ligue 1, where he’s just outshone the likes of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
Gunners fans have always held high hopes for the 21-year-old and he is now coming into his own with Reims this season.
Eddie Nketiah is grabbing all the headlines at the moment, but Balogun might be their next star in waiting. After all, he’s scored a whopping 75 goals for Arsenal’s Under-18 and Under-21s sides which is a staggering return.
The forward spent last season on loan with Middlesbrough where he scored just three goals, but now he is fully living up to the hype as he is rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best in Ligue 1.
Reims themselves have been a fascinating story this season. Managed by 30-year-old Englishman William Still, they currently find themselves on a 12-game unbeaten run.
Still’s men had all of the momentum when they faced up against PSG at the weekend and they managed to dominate the game for large spells.
The away side had nine shots in the first half and reduced PSG to just one. Neither Messi nor Mbappe could find their flow, but Neymar was on hand in the second half to give PSG the lead against the run of play.
Reims had defended gallantly and they reduced PSG’s famous front three to half chances throughout the evening. Their endeavour alone was deserving of a point, but as the clock hit the 95th minute it seemed too late to launch a comeback.
That’s where Balogun steps in. PSG lose the ball in a frantic scramble and Kamory Doumbia is able to pick out the Arsenal loanee and send him through on goal.
With Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos snapping at his heels and the giant Gianluigi Donnarumma rushing out of his goal, Balogun still had plenty to do when he was sent through.
In truth, Balogun was the coolest person in the Parc des Princes as he dummied around the goalkeeper before expertly lifting the ball into the back of the net.
A 96th-minute equaliser away to top-of-the-league PSG? That’s what we call clutch.
Folarin @balogun wouldn’t be denied 😤
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) January 29, 2023
“It’s magical, honestly. This is why we do this job,” Reims boss Still told reporters.
“To equalise at the 96th minute at the Parc des Princes, in front of so many of your supporters – it’s magical.
“It’s impossible to choose (between the point earned or the performance), the content was very very good especially in the first half, it’s nice to take a point at the Park. We showed a beautiful image of Reims.
“We showed that Reims wanted to play, press and be enterprising. We continue on a good momentum.”
When asked about Balogun himself, Still was full of praise, adding: “He is a super complete striker, he is able to play with his back to goal, in-depth. It is technically very clean. He scores, he is decisive.”
Balogun now has 11 league goals for the season, which is more than Messi has right now. If he continues along on this trajectory, he is undoubtedly an Arsenal star in the making.