Folarin Balogun scored a hat-trick against Reading in the Arsenal u18s’ 4-2 win on Saturday, and he’s starting to look too good for the lower youth levels.
Balogun broke the deadlock in the early Saturday kick-off, but it didn’t take long for Reading to equalise. A Stanley Flaherty free-kick gave the u18s the lead again in the second half before two more goals from Balogun made it 4-1. Reading pulled one back, but couldn’t mount a serious comeback attempt.
Three more goals from Balogun makes a statement about where he is at the moment though. Before the game, the 17-year-old striker already had five goals and an assist in five games for the u18 side. Now he’s up to nine direct goal contributions in just six appearances.
This is no rare spell of form either. Last season Balogun scored nine and assisted three in his 14 u18 Premier League games. He also bagged a goal for the u23s despite only playing 192 minutes, just 16 years old at the time. Then there was the FA Youth Cup run, where he once again added a couple more goals in limited minutes.
This campaign he’s scored one goal or more in every single game other than the one he played on the wing against Brighton. He’s finding the net even more consistently than Eddie Nketiah, albeit in a younger age group, which is some achievement.
The problem is that he has Tyreece John-Jules and Nketiah ahead of him, two of Arsenal’s top youth strikers in recent years. Fortunately, he’s young enough that he can wait a bit longer for opportunities, but he certainly looks ready to take them when they come around.