Arsenal’s likely participation in Europa League next season could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Mikel Arteta as it will allow young players to grow and gain valuable first-team experience as it has done in previous seasons.
One player in particular who would benefit from this is Folarin Balogun. The youngster has spent the second half of the season on loan at Championship side Middlesbrough, where he has excelled.
If the striker is unable to agree to another loan then staying at Arsenal would certainly be a good option, as he could receive valuable minutes in the Europa League throughout next season with the view to becoming a prominent figure in the Premier League.
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The youngster has been gaining valuable experience since moving to the Riverside on loan until the end of the season and he has had a great chance to replicate his youth team qualities at first-team level, with Boro’s FA Cup run also giving him an excellent platform to show his abilities against Premier League opposition.
Balogun played so well in the under-23 competitions that before the signing of his new Arsenal deal in the summer, there were a host of top clubs around Europe, including RB Leipzig, who signalled interest in securing his services, despite not making a first-team appearance.
He was good enough for first-team football, but Arteta didn’t seem to think he was capable of Arsenal’s level just yet. The striker testing himself further was an idea that was supported by England under-21 boss Lee Carsley, however, who previously said: “Watching him in the U23’s for Arsenal, it’s probably a little bit too easy for him and he’s passed that level.”
Now with first-team football under his belt in the lower leagues, a chance to impress regularly in the Europa League would certainly be great for his development. Players such as Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, and Gabriel Martinelli all impressed in this competition before being given the promotion to the Premier League team.
Arsenal’s likely failure to qualify for the Champions League next season could prove to be a blessing for Arsenal. Balogun is tipped for the great success in an Arsenal shirt, and the possibility of becoming a regular in a European competition will be great for his development.