ARSENAL boss Mikel Arteta could save the club millions in the transfer market.
Arsenal could soon be in desperate need of at least one new striker. Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract this summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left for Barcelona. But Mikel Arteta may already have one answer to his problems.
There is no doubt Arsenal will need to spend big on a striker at the end of the season.
Even if Nketiah does put pen to paper on a new deal, the Gunners cannot rely on him to be their main goalscorer.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Alexander Isak are two top targets the club will likely pursue.
But in Folarin Balogun they have a player who could be Arteta’s very own Harry Kane in the future.
Balogun is currently on loan at Championship club Middlesbrough, his first spell away from the Gunners.
Many at Arsenal felt he had outgrown under-23s football and needed to play at a competitive senior level.
Balogun has been prolific in front of goal at all levels below the Arsenal first team.
Arteta was forced to start him on the opening day of the season at Brentford when Aubameyang, Lacazette and Nketiah were all unavailable.
Arteta knew, even with the expected departure of Aubameyang in January, Balogun had to go on loan to fulfil that vital part of his learning.
After three substitute appearances and an ineffective display against Manchester United in the FA Cup, Balogun made his first Championship start for Boro on Saturday.
Chris Wilder’s side beat QPR 4-1 and, although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, the 20-year-old put in his best display yet for the club and provided an audacious assist for Duncan Watmore’s late sealer.
If Balogun can continue to impress for Boro, Arsenal could have a player on their hands.
The fans clamoured for him to sign a new contract 12 months ago and many who keep a close eye on the youth sides are desperate for him to succeed.
Balogun can have a similar career path to Kane if things go his way.
Kane had loan spells away from Spurs where he was hardly prolific.
However, he learned his trade against strong, workmanlike defences.
Kane was 21 at the beginning of the 2014/15 season, which turned out to be his first full campaign as a regular at Tottenham.
He scored 21 Premier League goals and 31 in all competitions.
Balogun will turn 21 in July, the same month Kane was born, so will be almost exactly the same age the England captain was heading into his breakthrough season.
Arteta and Arsenal fans alike would be naive to think Balogun will return and immediately hit those numbers.
Perhaps another loan for part of next season could be on the agenda.
But long term Balogun could be the answer and can save the club’s owners millions in the transfer market.
Emile Smith Rowe benefited hugely from a six-month loan at Huddersfield two years ago and Arsenal will be hoping Balogun can have a similar rise to stardom.