Premier League • England

Arsenal can spring ready-made Gabriel Jesus replacement in January, though clinical striker deal labelled a ‘surprise’

Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun

Arsenal can bring a striker who’s bagged eight goals in 15 on board to replace the injured Gabriel Jesus, though one outlet reckons Mikel Arteta may take the tougher route.

A mid-season World Cup was never likely to see every star come through unscathed. A lengthy injury lay-off is the last thing any club manager wants from their stars while in Qatar, though that’s exactly what’s happened to Arsenal.

Gabriel Jesus has picked up a knee injury that’s ruled him out of Brazil’s quest for a sixth World Cup. Of more pressing concern for the Gunners is how much of their title charge he’ll miss post-Christmas.

The 25-year-old will reportedly fly back to London on Sunday and quickly undergo an operation. Initial reports claimed he could miss three weeks, though that’s now looking more like three months.

Arsenal were interested in signing a brand new forward in January anyway. Indeed, a winger to lighten the load on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli is wanted, with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk on Arteta’s radar.

Martinelli can play up front if required, something that could result in all three of he, Saka and any winger starting together.

Eddie Nketiah is also on the books, while the club do have a ready-made option out on loan.

Folarin Balogun is thriving on a season-long loan at French club Reims. The 21-year-old has eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 matches to his name and has played exclusively at centre-forward.

Loan deals don’t always contain a recall clause. Indeed, Chelsea infamously failed to include one in Emerson Palmieri’s switch to Lyon last season and the Blues were unable to recall the Italian at a time when their left-back ranks were ravaged by injury.

Arsenal to walk more difficult path

However, according to Football London, Arsenal have covered their bases and do hold a recall clause in Balogun’s contract.

Bringing him back to north London would represent the easy choice, though the outlet claim Arteta might take the more difficult route.

Indeed, their reporter, Tom Canton, tweeted it’d be a “surprise” if Balogun were recalled from Reims.

Explaining why, Canton noted Balogun is progressing well in France and is guaranteed to start every week. That wouldn’t be the case at the Emirates with Nketiah on the books, while the idea of Martinelli playing at No 9 was again floated.

The journalist also reiterated Arsenal plan to sign a new forward anyway, meaning the Gunners seem content to leave Balogun where he is and instead push for a more difficult new arrival.

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