Arsenal rising star Folarin Balogun held talks with U.S. Soccer last week and now he is set to discuss his international future with England.
Balogun visited Orlando, Florida during the March international break and the USMNT eligible striker being interested in committing his international future to the USA caused quite the stir.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
The England U21 forward missed their March camp due to a small injury and he then posted a photo on social media which showed he was near to the USMNT’s training camp in Florida and he has was around Orlando for the USMNT’s 1-0 win against El Salvador there.
Now, England U21 boss Lee Carsley has revealed that the Three Lions setup will hold talks with Balogun about his future next week, as they will travel to Reims in France where he is currently on loan from Arsenal.
“He’s going to have to make a decision, so all we can do is tell him how much we rate him. The rest is down to him,” Carsley said via the London Evening Standard. Balogun has scored seven goals in 13 U21 games for England.
However, USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson last week confirmed that Balogun and U.S. Soccer had held talks over his future.
“We’ve had a dialogue. He is out here [in Orlando] having a bit of a break and training. We’ve had some discussions. It’s now just about him enjoying the rest of his trip… It has been an opportunity for us to share about our program, and that’s it. I hope we speak again,” Hudson said.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Balogun is a man in demand as England, the USMNT and Nigeria all push for him to represent them as he continues to assess his options.
This heat! 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/N9C69NOLzm
— Balogun (@balogun) March 23, 2023
What are the chances he selects USMNT?
Balogun, 21, has scored 17 goals in France’s top-flight for Reims this season as his loan spell from Arsenal has gone incredibly well and only Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe have scored more goals than him in Ligue 1 so far in 2022-23.
Internationally he is eligible to play for the USA, England and Nigeria and he has represented England’s youth teams in recent years and has previously played for the USA at U18 level.
Balogun was expected to play for the Three Lions during this international break as he is England’s main goalscoring threat at U21 level and Carsley wants him to represent them this summer at the U21 European Championships.
The talented striker used an unexpected window of opportunity to fly to Orlando to meet with U.S. Soccer reps to discuss his potential future with the USMNT. So, will he switch his international allegiance?
Arsenal teammate and USMNT’s starting goalkeeper Matt Turner had this to say when asked about Balogun.
“Yeah, he’d be a great addition to our national team. I think he’s done really well, obviously, for his club on loan, and we’ll see. The decision has to come from the heart, because it’s not necessarily an easy task always, to come and play in these CONCACAF games, and it’s a tough region at times. So for us, we’d be really grateful to have him, but his heart needs to be in it,” Turner said.
🗣 "He's been an integral part of our campaign."
Lee Carsley highlights the importance of Folarin Balogun, with his international future up in the air pic.twitter.com/jDUvjktxlC
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 23, 2023
What does he think?
Balogun has spoken about this topic before as Pro Soccer Talk asked him about his international future in an interview at the start of last season.
We asked Balogun if other Arsenal academy graduates like Yunus Musah and Bukayo Saka being in similar situations has led to them discussing how they made their decision on which country to represent and if that would help him to decide who he plays for internationally.
“I haven’t spoken to any of them about the nationality situation,” Balogun said. “Even from just the way I’ve known them, it is not something they have put a lot of pressure on themselves about. I think it is a decision that comes naturally to them.
“I think I’m going to do the same and hopefully something will just come to me and then I will make a decision… I don’t want to put too much pressure on the situation. It is just something that will just come to me.”
Maybe that feeling came to him while he was in the Orlando area with the USMNT.