Balogun outshines Messi and Mbappe to prove he's ready for Arsenal

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 30 Jan 2023 08:27 GMT
  • 3 min read
Folarin Balogun, Thierry Henry, Reims, Arsenal, 2022/23

Arsenal loan star Folarin Balogun decisively showed Mikel Arteta that he is ready to make a big impression at the Emirates Stadium when he returns from duty at Reims.

The 21-year-old England U21 international might have featured in only two Premier League fixtures for the Gunners, but against PSG on Sunday, the New York-born attacker proved that he is ready to mix it with the very best.

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Reims extended their undefeated record in Ligue 1 to 12 matches as they went to Parc des Princes and draw 1-1, and they owed a debt of gratitude to the Arsenal forward, who scored a dramatic late leveller.

Will Still’s side had been the better side for much of the match but had lost momentum when first Neymar scored and then, curiously, when Marco Verratti of the home side was sent off. They rallied late to snatch a point, though.

Balogun was decisive. After posing Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos problems with his movement in the early stages of the game, he broke through the middle of the defence late on to round Gianluigi Donnarumma and shoot into the roof of the net.

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Balogun chasing Mbappe

His 11th league goal of the season was arguably his most impressive to date, not just because of the cool nature it was taken, but also the context of the goal. It arrived when there were going to be absolutely no second chances and was scored when he was directly facing three of the best defensive players in the world at present.

Now only five players have more Ligue 1 goals than Balogun this season, including Kylian Mbappe, who stands just two clear of the striker on 13.

Arsenal manager Arteta will have taken note. He has been left short of attacking options in recent weeks due to an injury to Gabriel Jesus, and though Eddie Nketiah has stepped up and delivered beyond expectations, another quality option at centre forward would be welcome at the club.

Balogun is proving himself to be just that with his prolific spell in France – and it could save his club millions.