Arsenal: Folarin Balogun can be Jesus 2.0


Arsenal strengthened well in the winter transfer window, adding three new faces to bolster a squad already challenging for the Premier League title.

It was thought that the majority of January would be dominated by a desperate search for Gabriel Jesus’ stand-in, as the Brazilian underwent knee surgery mid-way through the World Cup.

Many had lauded him as the driving force behind Mikel Arteta’s resurgent Gunners, with his relentless pressing and 11 goal contributions integral in their push for glory.

However, having started the last five games since domestic football resumed, Eddie Nketiah now has four goals to his name and has announced himself as a more than capable replacement for the former Manchester City marksman.

Whilst this alone could have eased the fans’ worries, the goalscoring exploits of Folarin Balogun whilst on loan at Reims only further outline the depth they have in attacking areas.

The 21-year-old only boasts ten senior appearances for the north London outfit, and so sought further first-team opportunities in France.

Few could have predicted just how much he would go on to shine.

In just 20 Ligue 1 appearances, the youngster boasts 14 goals and two assists. His lethality is exacerbated by his stunning 23% conversion rate when striking the ball, which is higher than that of Nketiah’s or Jesus‘.

Such is his immense quality, his stunning hat trick earlier this week actually moved him atop the scoring charts for his division, above the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and former Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.

Folarin Balogun, Eddie Nketiah & Gabriel Jesus

His exploits have more than earned him his 7.07 average Sofascore rating, which far outperforms the 6.73 of his potential positional rival.

It marks a stunning turnaround from the forward who last season could only muster three goals whilst on loan at Middlesborough.

Just four months ago saw Balogun praised by co-commentator Tony Dorigo, as the BBC pundit lauded him for a “wonderful” goal against Germany whilst playing for England’s U21s.

Who would you prefer as Jesus backup?

Eddie Nketiah

Eddie Nketiah

Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun

Going from a worrying reliance on Jesus to a potential selection headache next season is a nice problem to have for Arteta, but should Balogun keep scoring at a similar rate, he will be hard to tie down as simply a backup. His form would demand a starting spot.