Middlesbrough and their new manager Chris Wilder are reportedly plotting a January loan move for Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun.

According to The Sun, Folarin Balogun could be the subject of interest from several sides in the January window, with Chris Wilder and Middlesbrough one of the keen parties.

Folarin Balogun was heavily in the news back in April when reports emerged he might be available on a free transfer in the summer transfer window. The striker, a graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, was considered one of the hottest prospects in English football, and clubs queued up to sign him.

Balogun eventually signed a new deal with the Gunners as Mikel Arteta, and Edu Gaspar convinced him of a future with the club. After making regular appearances during pre-season, Balogun started Arsenal’s opening game against Brentford as the team struggled with the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang and Alexandre Lacazette due to COVID-19 complications.

The young striker also played some part in the next fixture as Arsenal lost their opening three games. Arteta has now galvanised the side, with Aubameyang and Lacazette playing in a front two, which has led to an eight-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

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Amid the form of those forwards and the presence of Gabriel Martinelli, Balogun has found it hard to get first-team opportunities this season. He is biding his time playing heavily for the Under-23 side this season while being patient with chances in Arteta’s setup.

While Balogun remains a prospect for Arsenal’s future teams, many believe he needs to play in a proper club and first team. Hence a loan move is understandably on the cards for Balogun in the January window, as the club are keen to provide their young forward with some first-team experience.

Middlesbrough are among the clubs interested in signing him on loan in the January window. Balogun has shown amazing talent with the Arsenal Under-23 side this season, proving his goalscoring mettle time and again.

The Gunners are yet to decide on Balogun’s short-term future because they will lose Aubameyang in January to the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving Lacazette and Martinelli as their only reliable centre-forward options. Balogun could certainly provide cover to those strikers in the squad and might end up getting some game time, at least until the Arsenal captain returns.

However, after that, he might find himself on the periphery and probably miss out on a chance to join some other club to play regular first-team football.

Middlesbrough recently appointed Chris Wilder as their new manager. The newly-appointed boss has been keen on signing Balogun since his Sheffield United days. He tried to convince Arsenal to part with the striker in the summer of 2020, only for the Gunners to remain adamant over keeping him.

In January, Wilder could come back into the frame for Balogun to shore up his attacking options at the Championship club. The manager is eyeing promotion to the Premier League and certainly needs a reliable goalscorer to help matters at hand.

Balogun could be the striker, although it remains to be seen if Arsenal agree over his temporary departure. Middlesbrough could be a good choice to learn the trade in the Championship, which could also boost his confidence before challenging for a place in Arteta’s squad.

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