Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun late Wednesday night emerged as the French Ligue 1 top scorer ahead of France superstar Kylian Mbappe following his hat-trick for Reims against Lorient.
The England Under-21 international of Nigerian descent has now taken his goal total to 14 in 20 games, lifting him ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s trio of Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Joining the French side on loan from the Gunners for the season, the 21-year-old has been in frightening form, and it was no different in a 4-2 win over Lorient.
Two goals down in the match, the striker first cut the deficit with a blast from the penalty spot, and after teammate Kamory Doumbia levelled the score, Balogun took over.
Volleying in from close range he put his side ahead, and then repeated the feat with a sumptuous first-time hit from a long ball into the area.
Balogun collapsed onto the floor after completing his hat-trick in the 64th minute, clearly overjoyed at how well things are going in the Champagne region.
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Mbappe is a goal behind the youngster on 13 and the Cameroon-born 2018 World Cup winner for France missed a glorious chance to go level with Balogun as he had a penalty saved before blazing the rebound over the bar with the goal gaping, this coming after VAR ordered him to retake his initial penalty which was saved.
Balogun has already made his mark on the French superstar though, equalising in stoppage time after Neymar’s opener last time out to take a point from the Paris giants.
Balogun spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough, where he scored three goals, and he has two in 10 games for the Gunners‘ senior side.
The Arsenal academy product is eligible to play for England, the USA and Nigeria due to his heritage and birthplace, having represented both the Three Lions and the US at the youth level.
The Nigeria Football Federation however would be hard-pressed to have Balogun, whose parents hail from Oyo state, South West Nigeria play for the Super Eagles rather than for nations he only adopted.