Folarin Balogun, Reims
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One to watch: Folarin Balogun, Reims' young Gunner tearing it up in France

One to watch: Folarin Balogun, Reims' young Gunner tearing it up in France

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Publish on 09/13 at 21:29 - S. TELFORD

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Folarin Balogun has hit the ground running since swapping Arsenal for Stade de Reims on loan this summer, hitting five goals in seven games so far, but what else is there to know about the young striker?

Balogun has taken Ligue 1 Uber Eats by storm, also contributing two assists to give him a goal-involvement every 64 minutes he has played, despite featuring for a team who are currently 16th in the table.

 

Only Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar Jr. has been statistically more prolific since the season kicked off, with Balogun matching Lionel Messi and outdoing Kylian Mbappé thus far, and Reims must wish there was a clause to make his move permanent next summer.


Back story:

 

Born in New York City to Nigerian parents on 3 July 2001, Balogun moved to London when he was two years old, making him eligible to play for three countries at international level today.

 

Balogun very nearly signed for Tottenham Hotspur when he was 10, but instead joined Arsenal's youth academy that summer before racing through their age group teams alongside a certain Bukayo Saka.

 

Despite 75 goals in 103 games between under-18 and under-21 level, Balogun's path to the Gunners' first-team was more blocked than Saka's, though, and he spent the second half of last season on loan with Middlesbrough before arriving at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in August.


Style of play:

 

A powerful 5'10" striker with a good turn of pace and the ability to finish off both feet, Balogun was once compared to Arsenal legend Ian Wright by Martin Keown, although the player himself bases his game on that of Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski.

 

Previously tested in deeper and wider positions on his journey through Arsenal's academy, Balogun has been used as a leader of the line by the USA at under-18 level and England up until their under-21s.

 

Current campaign:

 

Balogun was handed his Reims debut on the opening day, and duly opened his account in a 4-1 loss at Olympique de Marseille. Consistently finding the target for a struggling team, it wasn't until Round 5 until he scored in a win, when he converted a penalty in a 4-2 victory at Angers SCO.

 

Watch: Balogun opens his Ligue 1 account against Marseille



What they said:

 

"My strengths are my runs and my finishing but I'm working to improve both, as well as my heading. Edinson Cavani is the player I look up to for his runs in behind. We do a lot of drills in training to develop and enhance our runs. I also look to Robert Lewandowski for his finishing, and I go out to training early to work on my own, which will hopefully make everything sharper and more instinctive."

 

- Balogun on the early evolution of his game.

 

"I am looking at him and thinking 'remember the name' really with the way he looked tonight. The way he linked up, that is a great turn. You try to compare, is it Andy Cole or Ian Wright? There is that sort of movement about him. I know those are big name players and if he can live up to that he will have some career."

 

- Keown after Balogun scored two against Dundalk for Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League in December 2020.