Arsenal loanee Balogun admits his Reims debut 'felt like a zombie apocalypse' & reflects on facing 'unreal' Mbappe

Folarin Balogun
Folarin Balogun has admitted that the hostile atmospheres in France have shocked him and spoke about how it was to face Kylian Mbappe in Ligue 1.
  • 21-year-old has eight goals this season
  • Reims sit in 11th place
  • Second loan spell for young forward

WHAT HAPPENED? Balogun, who is on loan at Reims from Arsenal, has made an impression at Stade Auguste-Delaune in north-eastern France. Reims currently occupy a healthy mid-table position in Ligue 1 and the forward also has eight goals to his name in the competition this season, well on his way to double figures. Speaking to The Athletic, the 21-year-old spoke of how shocked he was at the intense atmosphere prior to his first game for the club - a tough trip away to the Stade Velodrome to face Marseille.

WHAT THEY SAID: “I even asked my team-mates, ‘Are we going to a football match or are we going to a scrap?’. It was a crazy experience," he said. “When we were approaching the Velodrome, the police had guns and there were flares going off. It felt like we were going into a zombie apocalypse. I hadn’t seen anything like it.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Reims suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat that night, but when they took on Paris Saint-Germain at home in October, they held out to secure a respectable point against the defending champions. It was Balogun's first taste of facing superstar Mbappe. “It was the craziest experience," he added. Lionel Messi didn’t play, but playing against Mbappe for 90 minutes… To see him up close and how he makes his movements was unreal."

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Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun

WHAT NEXT FOR REIMS AND BALOGUN? The good news for Reims is that Arsenal won't be recalling Balogun over the January transfer window, so he will see out the season with Les Rouges et Blancs. They are next in action in Ligue 1 on December 29 against Rennes.