Arsenal loanee, Folarin Balogun caught the eye with Stade de Reims once again midweek, scoring a hat-trick against Lorient to take him clear at the top of the Ligue 1 goalscoring chart.
After his late equaliser away to Paris Saint-Germain in the previous matchday, Folarin Balogun was raring to go in front of the Stade de Reims fans on Wednesday night.
But the game didn’t initially go as planned, with away side Lorient racing into a 2-0 lead after 35 minutes.
As the match approached half time, Arsenal loanee Balogun had the chance to cut the deficit from the penalty spot, after Dion Lopy was brought down.
Firing his penalty just left of centre, Balogun scored his 12th Ligue 1 goal of the season, and 13th in all competitions. But there was more to come.
After Kamory Doumbia brought Reims level, Balogun gave them a 61st-minute lead with a clinical volley from close range. Three minutes later, he had a hat-trick, with an even better volley on his weaker left foot. The match finished 4-2.
Balogun certainly earned his three goals, taking 11 shots and seven shots on target – the most shots and shots on target by a player in a Ligue 1 game this season.
WhoScored named Balogun in their Ligue 1 Team of the Week, and his 9.8 rating made him their top-rated player of the week as well.
Now up to 15 goals in all competitions, Balogun is the Ligue 1 top scorer with 14 in the league, ahead of Kylian Mbappe (13) and Neymar (12).
It doesn’t appear as if the striker is getting lucky either. FotMob put him at 13.6 expected goals for the Ligue 1 season, just 0.4 goals off his actual total. Reims have been impressed with Balogun’s mentality and work ethic, and manager Will Still is full of praise for the forward’s abilities. Balogun has also benefited from working with Still, who is considered a highly promising young coach and focuses on the human side of coaching.
Despite his success in France, Balogun considers Arsenal to be his family, and the club represents brotherhood and unity for him.
The 21-year-old certainly looks set to give Mikel Arteta a headache this summer, but for now, he’ll want to keep pushing for that top-scorer award to put him in the best position when he returns to the club.