Folarin Balogun is free to return to Arsenal after his loan spell at Middlesbrough came to an end following the conclusion of the regular 2021/22 Championship season.
The striker moved to the Riverside Stadium during the January transfer window to gain much-needed first-team experience and scored three times in 21 appearances across all competitions for Boro as they missed out on a play-off spot to Luton Town after a disappointing 4-1 loss against Preston on the final day.
Interestingly, one of those appearances came in the FA Cup against Tottenham Hotspur – who just happen to be Arsenal’s next opponent in the Premier League where a win over their big rivals away from home will confirm Champions League qualification for the first time in five years.
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Despite not scoring in that game at the Riverside Stadium, Balogun did feature as Boro knocked Spurs out of the competition and his performance could save his parent club millions in the summer transfer window after showcasing what he could bring to the table as Arsenal’s main striker.
However, the England U21 international won’t get the chance to replicate the feat on Thursday night in the North London Derby – even though his loan spell at Boro has technically ended with there being no more remaining games for Chris Wilder’s side to play this season.
Having been registered in Arsenal’s updated Premier League squad after the January transfer window had closed, football.london reached out to the Premier League to enquire about the chances of the 20-year-old potentially making Mikel Arteta’s matchday squad against Spurs.
And football.london understands that those chances are impossible as the ruling is that other than the early recall of a goalkeeper in exceptional circumstances, no other player will be permitted to return outside of a window and play first-team football.
Balogun actually started the Gunners’ first game of the season against Brentford and then made a substitute appearance at home to Chelsea the following week, but as per Premier League rules, he won’t play any part in the north London outfit’s final three fixtures against Spurs, Newcastle United and Everton.
Source by Football London