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‘Let’s make history’ | Folarin Balogun commits international future to the United States

Balogun has embarked on a fantastic season with Stade de Reims, which has largely gone unnoticed by England boss Gareth Southgate, but countless United States fans did their job in making the New York-born striker wanted on the other side of the pond

For all the talented youngsters that England can lay claim to, Folarin Balogun will no longer be among them.

Arsenal’s on-loan starlet striker has finally made a lasting decision surrounding his international future, with the 21-year-old opting to represent the nation of his birth after officially announcing that he will ply his trade at the international level for the United States national team.

Despite representing England throughout youth level and coming through the ranks at Arsenal’s Hale End Academy, Balogun was born in New York City to Nigerian parents and has long spoken of his lasting connection to the United States. That very connection played a massive role in his decision to walk away from an England camp that was clearly not prepared to give him a look-in under Gareth Southgate.

During a recent international break that saw him spend time around the USMNT training camp while showing himself at sporting events around the country amid considerable fan fair, it was clear that the United States and its supporters were keen on prizing him away from the Three Lions just as they had already done with friend and fellow former Gunners academy product Yunus Musah.

In recent quotes surrounding his decision, Balogun spoke of the role US fans played in his decision while showing their appreciation for him during his training stint in Florida.

I think that’s when I really saw the full force of the U.S. fans. I was there and I just posted a photo with my friends thinking that it was just a holiday picture. Before I knew it, I just saw loads of comments and people knew I was in America, and I just really felt the love from there.

There’s been a lot of build-up, so I’ve obviously seen people saying that I should choose to represent the U.S. and it’s just something I’m really happy that I’ve decided to do.

Balogun’s capture is a major coup for the USMNT given his burgeoning reputation in Europe after what has been a sensational season in Champagne country with Stade de Reims under young manager Will Still, with the versatile forward bagging 19 of Reims’ 42 goals in Ligue 1 this season and three matches left for him to crack the 20 goal mark on the season.

With a long-term frontline striker for the US to build their attack around in the run-up to co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, questions will also be levied in the direction of the England camp and why Southgate remained adamant at not giving Balogun a chance to receive a call up given his run of form this season, especially given the fact that the Three Lions lack real long-term solutions though the middle.

Still, Balogun fits right in with the US project that can boast a cadre of budding young talents that could very easily hit their stride in three years’ time after a considerable 2022 tournament that showed their trajectory is very much on the up and up.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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