Championship side Middlesbrough are currently in pole position to land Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun on a loan deal until the end of the season, according to Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth (4/1; 7:36pm).
The Teesside outfit have been linked with the New York-born forward for some time with Chris Wilder looking to strengthen his forward department during the January transfer window, as Josh Coburn remains out of the first-team picture at this stage despite his new contract.
Added to this, Uche Ikpeazu is also thought to have been made available for a move away from the Riverside this month after only joining the club in the summer, even with the ex-Sheffield United boss continuing to opt with his same system with two up top.
Quiz: Can you name which club Middlesbrough signed these 28 midfielders from?
This is why the second-tier side, who already invested heavily in the summer and have recruited Brighton and Hove Albion’s Aaron Connolly on loan already this month, may decide to pursue a second forward during the winter window to aid them in their quest of Premier League football.
20-year-old Balogun has already played in the English top-flight this season, but has made just two league appearances for the Gunners this season with both coming in the opening two matches of the 2021/22 campaign.
He has been the subject of interest from multiple Championship sides and Ligue 1 outfit St-Etienne in recent times, but Boro are now at the front of the queue to secure his signature for the remainder of this season according to last night’s update from Sky Sports journalist Sheth.
The second-tier club still have plenty of space to make loan additions, with Balogun potentially becoming their fifth temporary arrival during 2021/22 if they can get this deal over the line.
Whether this deal should go through may depend on the future of Ikpeazu because it will be difficult for Wilder to keep five senior strikers happy even if injuries come into play, with just two starting spots up for grabs and one forward likely to miss out on the matchday squad entirely if all five are available.
They may not be paying 100% of Andraz Sporar and Connolly’s wages either seeing as they are both loanees – but the cost of all these forward options also must be looked at so the second-tier side may decide to bide their time before making a move for the Arsenal man.
With two reliable options in Sporar and Duncan Watmore though – it’s worth the risk of bringing in Balogun along with Connolly if Ikpeazu goes – as two young, hungry players who have a real point to prove at this level.
This hunger and desire can only be a real plus for the Teesside club – and this level of competition in the forward department will be required if they want to maximise performance levels and sustain their promotion push.
Whether he will still be available by the time Boro get Ikpeazu off their books remains to be seen, so they may face a real tussle in bringing him in later in the window unless they move now.