Folarin Balogun Can’t Stop Scoring
“Before I moved, the gaffer (Arteta) just wanted me to develop as a man. It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant by ‘develop as a man’.
By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant by that. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.
Going on loan is always beneficial, especially for youngsters, as it gives them the opportunity to showcase themselves in a competitive environment, and affects the final decision making of the parent club, on whether to keep the player for the long term, or just ship him off to the highest bidder.
One lad that has seen the immense benefits of consistent loan spells has been one of our defensive lynchpins, William Saliba. He was sign from St. Etienne with huge fan fare but he wasn’t ready to play for Arsenal as he was relatively raw, so he moved on loan to St. Etienne, OGC Nice and finally, Olympique Marseille, before solidifying his status as one of the mainstays in the Arsenal defense for the foreseeable future.
Balogun had a loan spell last season with Middlesbrough in the Championship, but it wasn’t really a success from a personal standpoint, as he garnered just three goals in 20 appearances for the club. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leaving, Balogun must have felt that he would earn a call up to the first team, to deputize behind Eddie Nketiah, but with the acquisition of Gabriel Jesus, he was would remain further down the pecking order.
His loan spell in his current club, Stade de Reims, has been a monumental success, and massive credit has to go to his manager, William Still, for trusting him to lead the line as Balogun has been an ever-present for the French club this season, and his plethora of goals has propelled the club to 11th place thus far.
Balogun made his debut as a substitute in the 4-1 defeat to Olympique Marseille, but he marked the occasion with a goal, which proved to be a consolation on the night for Stade de Reims but a sign of things to come. The debut goal from a cameo appearance earned him a start in the next league game against Clemont Foot which ended in yet another defeat for Reims but Balogun earned a goal from a spot kick. Balogun made it three goals in three games when he scored Reims equalizer in the 1-1 draw with SC Strasbourg.
Balogun had his first blank in the impressive 1-1 draw against Lyon, playing for an hour before he was subbed off. However, he resumed his scoring run in the fifth game of the campaign against Angers SCO, coming off the bench to score a goal (Reims’ third), as well as supply an assist for his teammate, Alexis Flips, to make it 4-2. That was Reims first win of the campaign and the Arsenal youngster played a role in making it happen. He returned to the starting lineup for the next two games against Toulouse and Monaco (both losses), and he scored his sixth goal of the season in the 2-2 draw with Troyes.
As he continued to feature consistently for Reims, the goals kept flowing. Number seven of the season popped up in the 2-1 win over AJ Auxerre, then he followed this up with the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Nantes. His hot streak continued with a brace against Stade Rennes, a last minute equalizer against PSG and just yesterday, a magnificent hat-trick against Lorient, taking his tally for the season to 14, which places him at the summit of the Ligue Un’s scoring charts ahead of Kylian Mbappe (13), Terem Moffi, Jonathan David, Wissam Ben Yedder, Alexandre Lacazette and Neymar that are all tied on 12.
These goals will do a lot to Balogun’s confidence and I hope he continues his amazing streak in France. We will continue to monitor his progress and provide updates on the blog.
Bonus Reading: The Goals Keep Coming for the Flo’
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