Could Gift Orban be the next Victor Osimhen? Folarin Balogun eyeing Kylian Mbappe

Gift Orban was prolific for Gents against Zulte Waregem in the Belgian Pro League. LUC CLAESSEN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Wonderkid Gift Orban struck four goals during 40 second-half minutes in the Belgium top flight this weekend, in a remarkable showing that proved Victor Osimhen isn't the only Nigerian hotshot giving defenders sleepless nights this season!

Elsewhere, another potential Super Eagles forward Folarin Balogun made true his claim that he's among Ligue 1's best attackers with yet another goal in the French top tier, although Mohamed Salah was brought crashing down to earth only a week after he'd torn Manchester United to shreds at Anfield.

Napoli's Osimhen has been the undisputed African goal king of the season, having netted a whopping 19 goals in 22 Serie A outings so far this campaign.

However, even he couldn't claim to have achieved compatriot Orban's sensational feat this weekend, as the 20-year-old registered four goals in the second half as Gent demolished Zulte Waregem 6-2 in the Belgian Pro League.

Visiting Gent were leading 2-1 when Orban's goal rush began in the 53rd minute, with the young attacker -- who only arrived in Belgium earlier this year -- proceeding to score four goals before the 83rd minute, including a thumping free kick.

He could have even had a fifth, only for another effort to be ruled out for offside.

Orban took seven shots during the course of the match, with five attempts on target and, ultimately, four of them beating beleaguered Sammy Bossut, testament to his immense efficiency in front of goal.

Raised in Togo, the youngster won the Norwegian second-tier Golden Boot and Young Player of the Year award last season, before quitting Stabaek for Gent on transfer deadline day.

After 19 goals in 24 outings for his previous club in all competitions -- not to mention promotion to the top flight -0 Orban followed in Osimhen's footsteps by moving to Belgium.

He now already has seven goals in five Pro League outings since arriving at Gent -- sending them to the brink of the Championship playoffs -- a far better goals-to-games ratio than Osimhen managed during his season-long loan at Sporting Charleroi in 2018-19.

Since making his debut on February 11, Orban has averaged a goal every 61 minutes of league action -- with only Haris Tabakovic of Austria Vienna and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe scoring more regularly during that period of all players in the top 10 European leagues.

Not since 2000, and Mouscron's Nenad Jestrovic, has a player scored seven goals in his first five matches in the Belgian league, and while Orban is already developing something of a reputation for individualism, his head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck is still focusing on the upside of the in-form goal-getter.

"I didn't see him the first half, but he doesn't have to be in the match to score out of the blue each time," he said, as per Sporza. "He saved us from a difficult game.

"Things can always improve, he still has some conditioning work ahead of him...and has to learn to celebrate with the team."

Orban is quickly taking the mantle of Paul Onuachu, another Nigerian who scored relentlessly in Belgium before moving to Southampton in January, and may yet replace him in the Super Eagles squad when Jose Peseiro announces his choices to face Guinea-Bissau in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header.

One player who definitely will be included in the squad is Osimhen himself, even though the forward has now gone two games without scoring for the first time since September after failing to net in Napoli's 2-0 victory over Atalanta on Saturday.

Despite not scoring, he was responsible for opening the scoring, setting up his fellow 'goal twin' Khvicha Kvaratskhelia with a sumptuous defence-splitting pass just before the hour mark.

It's no secret these days that Osimhen has become a tremendously consistent goalscorer, but the technique, vision and composure required to thread Kvaratskhelia through set him apart as a truly multi-dimensional frontman.

There was some fighting talk from Arsenal loanee Balogun ahead of Stade de Reims' trip to AS Monaco on Sunday, particularly considering he'd scored just once in his previous six games for the club of the Champagne region.

However, ahead of the match, Balogun insisted that he wasn't surprised to be ranking among the top goalscorers in Ligue 1.

"[This season] is not a surprise," he told canal+, "because I have a lot of belief in myself, I know the level I'm capable of and I like to prove it.

"The numbers I've been putting up might surprise people, but not me. I've always been one of the top scorers.

"It's just a case of showing people around the world what I'm capable of."

People are noticing, not least ex-Gunners striker Olivier Giroud, who sent a video message to the young striker to encourage him ahead of the Monaco game.

"I remember you when you played for the youth teams in Arsenal," the AC Milan forward said. "I'm very happy for you and you deserve to be there."

Balogun seems to have taken the encouragement to heart when he settled Sunday's fixture after meeting Alexis Flips' through ball before firing beyond Alexander Nubel, ending his mini goal drought in some style.

Reims are now unbeaten in 19 matches, while Balogun's 16th goal of the season takes him up to joint third in the goalscoring charts.

Only Jonathan David and Mbappe -- both on 19 goals -- are ahead of the 21-year-old in the race for the Golden Boot.

For Salah, however, it was a weekend to forget, as he failed to build on last weekend's magnificent showing against Manchester United as Liverpool slumped to a shock defeat by Bournemouth.

The Reds were riding high after their 7-0 ravaging of their eternal rivals on Merseyside last Sunday, with Salah at the heart of a display that won't be forgotten by anyone in attendance at Anfield.

Less than seven days later, Salah was the villain, firing a penalty haplessly wide as Bournemouth -- inspired by new signing Dango Ouattara -- took three unlikely points against a side who has demolished them 9-0 as recently as August.

The Burkina Faso wideman, stretching Liverpool at every opportunity from the Cherries' left flank, served an early threat when he fired against the side netting after taking the round Allison.

Liverpool weren't able to devise a way to contain the new recruit from FC Lorient, and a quarter of an hour later, he made the game's first decisive intervention when he raced down the right flank and crossed for Philip Billing to open the scoring.

With 15 minutes to play, Salah had an ideal opportunity to restore parity when VAR spotted Adam Smith's handball in the box, only to serve an ample reminder of his morality with a miserable attempted spotkick that concluded with the ball fired high and wide into the supporters behind the goal.

Salah had scored 18 of his previous 20 penalties in the Premier League, and while two were saved, he'd never before failed to hit the target entirely.

It was a bizarre lapse from a player who, against United last week, appeared back to his ruthless best, yet was well off the boil at the Vitality Stadium, beginning with an early fluffed attempt which was stopped comfortably by Neto.

By contrast, Dango Ouattara is going under the radar as one of the outstanding signings of the January transfer window, with no other player in the PL registering more assists than his three since the 21-year-old made his debut against Nottingham Forest on January 21.

Beyond setting up Billing, Ouattara's work rate -- particularly in protecting fullback Smith -- was admirable, and his performance can give Bournemouth hope that they may yet evade relegation.