Better than Jesus! Balogun is Ligue 1’s top scorer

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 2 Feb 2023 12:10 GMT
  • 3 min read
Folarin Balogun, Reims, 2022/23

Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun moved to the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts on Wednesday thanks to a hat-trick for his Reims side in a 4-2 win over Lorient at home.

On loan in France from the Emirates club, Balogun is now up to 14 goals for the season – one ahead of PSG striker Kylian Mbappe – thanks to his exploits in midweek.

It also means that he has scored six times in five Ligue 1 appearances since the World Cup break.

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Reims were trailing 2-0 when Balogun really started to get going in midweek. He brought his side back into the game with a penalty that was powerfully converted after a handball.

Around the hour mark, once Kamory Doumbia had levelled the game, Balogun took Reims out of sight. First, he deftly volleyed beyond former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone and then a couple of minutes later struck another first-time effort into the Lorient net.

This performance came hot off the heels of a blistering display against PSG at the weekend. Balogun’s highlight in that match was clearly his last-gasp equaliser, when he sped away from Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos before showing the composure to round Gianluigi Donnarumma to score, but his overall performance in that match was also eye-catching.

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Ligue 1 top scorers: 2 February, 2023

Ligue 1 top scorers

Ligue 1 top scorers

Remarkably, all six of his goals since the World Cup have come against clubs in the top six of the standings, proving he is doing it against a strong level of opponent, despite himself playing for a mid-table outfit.

Balogun is scoring at the rate of a goal every 107.5 minutes in Ligue 1 this season, which is better than Mbappe’s rate of one every 112.75 minutes, although the New York-born striker has scored four penalties in comparison to the PSG man’s two.

Indeed, Balogun is the most prolific scorer of goals that Arsenal have on their books at present. Mikel Arteta’s side have shot to the top of the Premier League standings without a prolific scorer, with Eddie Nketiah the closest to double figures in all competitions having netted nine times.

Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, is stuck on five goals since 1 October, albeit he has suffered from a knee injury sustained in the World Cup.

Arsenal do not necessarily need a prolific scorer, yet the contribution that Balogun is making at Reims must be one that interests Arteta, particularly after William Saliba’s success in Ligue 1 translated into fine Premier League form.