After months of speculation, promising striker Folarin Balogun has officially announced that he will commit his international future to the USMNT and that FIFA has approved the decision. Having played in the England national youth system for five years, he was earmarked for a big future in the England Set-Up.
USMNT Win The Race For Balogun
It was revealed in March that he opted to recover from an injury during an international break in Florida, where he also had discussions with officials from USMNT. Balogun was born in New York City to Nigerian parents, making him eligible to represent all three countries. He is expected to debut against Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League Semi-Final in Las Vegas this coming June.
During the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it was clear the USMNT lacked a talismanic striker who could guarantee goals, and with 20 goals this season, Balogun hopes to fill this void as a realistic goal scorer. In addition, it will significantly boost interim Head Coach Anthony Hudson, who has limited options in this department.
His decision was also most likely made in the knowledge that there is a long list of forwards looking to challenge Harry Kane for a starting spot. Therefore, this decision almost guarantees regular international football for the player with the USMNT alongside Christian Pulisic and Giovanna Reyna in a fearsome front three.
This will also be disappointing news to England Under 21s coach Lee Carsley, who planned to use him in this summer’s Euro Under 21 tournament. He will have just a month to arrange a replacement. Carsley spoke in late May of his confidence that Balogun will choose to represent England moving forward.
Balogun Is In Hot Demand
The 21-year-old joined the Arsenal Football Academy at eight and had made ten appearances for the first team, scoring two goals. Balogun was loaned out to French Ligue 1 outfit Reims for the 2022/2023 season, where he is currently top scorer with two games left to play.
He is the joint-fifth top scorer in France this season with 19 goals and has scored more than the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar. This feat has garnered interest from teams in both England and France. He has one contract year and is currently valued at around 17 Million Euros. Becoming a first-choice international striker will surely increase his asking price.