What would Middlesbrough’s starting XI look like if they sealed loan deal for Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun?
Middlesbrough are the frontrunners in the pursuit of Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun, with his current club now prepared to loan out the striker according to recent reports.
Middlesbrough have made just one change to their starting eleven under new boss Chris Wilder in his four games in charge, and this was down to an injury to Lee Peltier.
This lack of tinkering may be down to the number of injuries at the club, or could be that the Boro boss is settled with his starting eleven.
But having scouted Balogun on international duty whilst with the England U21 side, Wilder is said to be interested in the youngster yet again. He previously registered an interest whilst in charge at Sheffield United.
Why sign Balogun?
The 20-year-old is said to have outgrown the academy set-up at Arsenal and needs a regular taste of senior football. He has already been fast-tracked into the first-team at Arsenal and has played twice in the top tier this season for the Gunners.
He has scored a whopping 14 goals and registered a further two assists in just 10 games at youth level, and his form has seen him called up to the England U21 side, where he scored in his most recent outing against Kosovo.
This has also caught the eye of Middlesbrough, with Wilder looking for a bit more variation up top.
How much game time would he get?
Middlesbrough have Andraz Sporar, Duncan Watmore, Josh Coburn, and Uche Ikeapzu at their disposal at present.
Wilder doesn’t seem to trust Coburn just yet, with the 18-year-old only having been limited to 45 minutes across Wilder’s first four games in charge, whereas the club are willing to entertain offers for Ikpeazu in January.
This would leave just Sporar and Watmore for Balogun to dislodge for a starting berth.
The Boro duo look to be settled as the first-choice up front, but Balogun’s introduction would provide solid competition for places, and could tempt Wilder into rotating his front two more regularly.
What could Middlesbrough’s starting XI look like if they secure the signing of Balogun?
GK – Luke Daniels
RWB – Isaiah Jones
CB – Dael Fry
CB – Sol Bamba
CB – Paddy McNair
LWB – Marc Bola
CM – Jonny Howson
CM – Marcus Tavernier
CM – Matt Crooks
ST – Andraz Sporar
ST – Folarin Balogun
With Balogun being faster and more industrious than Sporar, it does give a balance to the front two. But this would be at the sacrifice of Duncan Watmore.
Alternatively, Watmore could keep his place by dropping into a deeper number 10 role in place of Tavernier or Crooks, to allow for Balogun to play as a striker alongside Slovenian international Sporar.