Arsenal’s young striker Folarin Balogun has joined Championship side Middlesbrough on a loan deal for the rest of the season, according to Sky Sports.
Balogun underwent a medical at Middlesbrough on Tuesday before finalising his move. He was supposed to join them earlier this month, but the move stalled briefly after the player tested positive for Covid. The Championship side have agreed to pay a portion of the salary for the player.
The 20-year-old forward has featured just twice in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, but he certainly remains a long-term prospect for the club, having extended his contract last year which ties him to the club until 2025. Balogun made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 loss to Brentford on Matchday one and came on as a substitute against Chelsea for 10 minutes the following week.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown compared him to Ian Wright after watching his first game for the senior team against Dundalk in the Europa League in 2020. He stretched Dundalk’s defence by making quick and intelligent runs. Arsenal had lacked such sharpness while running in behind opposition defenders. Lacazette likes to push deep and make exchanges with the midfielders while Aubameyang uses the width of the field to attack.
The Arsenal youngster joins on loan until the end of the season ✍️ #UTB
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) January 12, 2022
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder wanted to bring the youngster to Sheffield United back in 2020 but the move never materialised. Nevertheless, his admiration for the player has finally linked the two together. Wilder has guided the Championship side to seventh place, one place behind the play-off spots.
The 54-year-old has been successful in bringing this team this far without a recognised goal scorer. He is now utilising the January transfer window to strengthen his attacking unit to lead the club to play-offs. Balogun becomes his second striker signing after the recent arrival of Aaron Connolly from Brighton. The Arsenal forward may get his first opportunity to impress his new manager against Reading on Saturday.
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A lot rides on the youngster to mark his name during this loan spell in the Championship as Arteta will closely monitor his development. Meanwhile, the Gunners are facing striking issues themselves as they look to find a reliable forward to fire the attack.
Dusan Vlahovic remains the primary choice for the North London club despite his huge asking price. There are also reports of Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak being targeted as an alternative.
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