Premier League • England

Gabriel Jesus successor identified for Arsenal with new star tipped to benefit from William Saliba transfer path

Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal v Aston Villa August 2022

A pundit reckons Arsenal already have Gabriel Jesus’ striker successor on their books, with a youngster excelling out on loan and benefitting from a path already trodden by William Saliba.

Jesus joined Arsenal from Manchester City in the summer for £45million. Despite winning plenty of silverware at City, the Brazilian had told club chiefs about his desire to leave so he could become an important player elsewhere.

Arsenal appeared to be the perfect next club for Jesus given the recent departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

So far, the partnership between Jesus and Arsenal has looked like a match made in heaven. Jesus notched five goals and seven assists in 20 games before the start of the Qatar World Cup.

While that does not sound like a blistering record, the 25-year-old’s influence is about far more than goals. He is helping to get the best out of other players such as Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, Jesus got injured while representing Brazil at the World Cup and has been out of action ever since. He is hoping to return in late February, depending on how his rehabilitation goes.

Surprisingly, Jesus’ absence has not slowed Arsenal’s charge for the Premier League title down. Eddie Nketiah has done a good job in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his last seven matches across all competitions.

Arteta will be glad once Jesus returns as he has far more experience than Nketiah. But the manager will be happy knowing he has a great understudy in Nketiah.

Arsenal may have next striker on books

However, Jesus’ eventual striker successor could actually end up being Folarin Balogun. The 21-year-old is spending the season away from Arsenal on loan at French side Stade Reims. And he is doing extremely well under rookie Belgian-English coach Will Still.

So far, Balogun has bagged a sensational 15 goals in 21 outings. And 14 of those strikes have come in Ligue 1.

He has taken a big step in his career and will be hoping to get first-team opportunities if he comes back into the Arsenal squad next season.

Pundit Noel Whelan reckons Saliba’s path to the Arsenal starting eleven could serve Balogun well. After all, the centre-back had three years on loan to French teams before coming back to the Emirates and impressing Arteta.

If Balogun’s Stade Reims form is anything to go by, then he could end up returning to Arsenal and becoming Jesus’ eventual successor up front.

“Saliba is the prime example of what can happen when a young player goes out on loan,” Whelan said during an interview with Football Insider.

“Everything Arsenal are doing right now seems to be coming to fruition. Whether that’s the new signings, the young players, or the existing players.

“Everyone’s thriving – and that bodes well for the future for Arsenal.

“Balogun is a player who can come back this summer and should give Mikel Arteta another option.

“If he can have anywhere near the same impact as Saliba, then it’s going to be yet another success story.”

Meanwhile, Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has spoken about Moises Caicedo following January bids from Arsenal and Chelsea for the midfielder.