Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun is enjoying a stellar season out on loan with Stade de Reims in Ligue 1. The 21-year-old was allowed to leave the Gunners for the 2022/23 campaign following the arrival of Gabriel Jesus at the Emirates Stadium from Manchester City in a £45million deal.
Jesus' injury whilst on international duty with Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar threatened to derail Arsenal's Premier League title challenge. Eddie Nketiah has stepped up in the Brazilian's absence and proved he can be a capable back-up option for Jesus, scoring six goals in seven appearances since the Premier League resumed on Boxing Day.
Whilst the Gunners continue their impressive season, Balogun is making a name for himself in France. The 21-year-old has now scored more goals (14) than Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in Ligue 1 after netting a spectacular hat-trick against Lorient in his most recent appearance.
READ MORE: Arsenal's Folarin Balogun takes spotlight off Lionel Messi and Mbappe to follow in Saliba path
The Hale End academy graduate was also influential in helping Reims secure a late draw against Paris Saint-Germain after he was played through on goal in the 96th minute before taking the ball around the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma and slotting it into the empty goal to earn a surprise point in the French capital.
Reims manager Will Still was full of praise for Balogun after his last-gasp equaliser against PSG: “He is a super complete striker, he is able to play with his back to goal, in depth,” said Still.
“It is technically very clean. He scores, he is decisive," he added.
Balogun is following a similar path to that of William Saliba, with the French defender now having a major impact on Arsenal's first team after a successful loan spell in France last term. Saliba picked up the Young Player of the Year award last season for his performances with Marseille and is now considered one of the best defenders in the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta has been impressed with Balogun's development in recent years and has admitted he is looking forward to working with him in the seasons to come. The 21-year-old has made it clear his main focus is to return to the Emirates Stadium and fight for a spot in the first team as he continues to reap the rewards from his loan spell.
In a recent interview with L'Equipe, Balogun said: "Arsenal is my family. For me, the club represents brotherhood and unity.
"There, I learned always to push my limits. I remember from training the permanent desire to progress on a technical level.
"I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left. I realised there were certain things I would struggle with, but I think that’s a good thing. It helps you to manage stuff you’re uncomfortable with, which is important.”
Arsenal could be set to save millions in the transfer market this summer once Balogun returns to compete with Jesus and Nketiah for the starting striker role.
His return will ease Arteta's attacking concerns and allow Edu to invest funds elsewhere in the squad, with midfield set to be a key area to strengthen as the Gunners eye moves for Brighton's Moises Caicedo and West Ham captain Declan Rice.
Mikel Arteta has already confirmed Arsenal plan for Folarin Balogun as starlet topples Mbappe
Jorginho on standby to replace Thomas Partey with Arsenal stars handed recalls vs Everton
What Oleksandr Zinchenko did to Jorginho after Arsenal completed £12m transfer on deadline day
Rio Ferdinand and Roy Keane disagree on Premier League title race amid Arsenal and City battle
Arsenal news and transfers LIVE: All the latest news, rumours and gossip from the Emirates Stadium