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Mikel Arteta could now fix striker problem in January with 21-year-old who has outscored Messi - opinion
Photo by FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP via Getty Images

Mikel Arteta could now fix striker problem in January with 21-year-old who has outscored Messi - opinion

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s worst nightmare has come true at the World Cup in Qatar.

The news that Gabriel Jesus has had to withdraw from the Brazil squad through injury is the last thing Arsenal needed.

As discussions over the time frame of his injury continue, a report from Football London shares a potential solution.

Jesus has become one of Arsenal’s most important players since his summer move from Manchester City.

Although he’s not been the most prolific striker in the league, his importance lies in his ability to link with his Arsenal teammates.

He’s already created a near-telepathic relationship with Martin Odegaard.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have also benefitted from the Brazilian’s unselfish style.

Arsenal only have one senior striker in the squad that could replace Jesus; Eddie Nketiah.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

After signing a new deal in the summer and handed the iconic number 14 shirt, Nketiah hasn’t scored in the league this season.

Arteta has plenty of faith in the 23-year-old, and has used him 12 times off the bench.

However, he may want a more prolific forward leading the line in Jesus’ absence.

Football London’s report suggests that Arsenal have the option to recall Folarin Balogun from his loan spell at Stade Reims in January.

Balogun has been on fire in Ligue 1, and could be handed a surprise chance to break into Arsenal’s first team.

Arsenal could recall Balogun in January

The 21-year-old could end up back at the Emirates a lot sooner than expected depending on Jesus’ injury.

He’s been in sensational form for Stade Reims this season, scoring eight goals and providing two assists in 15 appearances.

Balogun is currently outscoring Lionel Messi in Ligue 1, which is a massive achievement.

He’s recognised a potential star of the future by the Gunners, and his current loan spell is certainly showcasing his potential.

As mentioned before, Jesus offers a lot more to Arsenal than just his goal scoring.

Jesus is an elite dribbler and passer of the ball, something whoever replaces him will need to replicate.

Photo by FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP via Getty Images

Nketiah completes more dribbles than Balogun (1.47 vs 1.09, stats per 90 minutes, as per FBRef), but Balogun is the better progressive passer (7.72 vs 8.78).

Arteta is unlikely to want to disrupt Balogun’s good form in France unless absolutely necessary, but does want to secure his long-term future.

He would also need to adapt to the step up from Ligue 1 to the Premier League quickly, and the additional pressure of playing for a title-chasing team.

Until the full extent of Jesus’ injury is known, Arsenal are unlikely to recall Balogun in January.

However, the safety blanket of knowing the option is there is a positive one for the Gunners.

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