Folarin Balogun’s recent trip to the United States has not only gotten U.S. men’s national team fans excited but has England national team fans worried about the striker’s international future.
Balogun withdrew from England’s Under-21 camp this international break before arriving in the United States and taking in several sporting events in Florida. England U-21 boss Lee Carsley was not able to use Balogun for friendlies against France (4-0 win) and Croatia (2-1 loss) this month as the Three Lions continue their preparation for this summer’s European U-21 Championship.
The Arsenal loanee is eligible to represent England, United States, or Nigeria on the international level and after representing the Three Lions on several occasions over the past few years, Balogun remains a top target for Carsley to try and convince to stay in the England plans.
“You’re always going to miss a player with that kind of ability and that knack of scoring a goal,” Carsley said to BBC Sport after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Croatia at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. “We have created more than enough chances tonight to get more than the one goal. It would be good to get Flo back.
“Ultimately, he is going to have to make a decision,” Carsley added. “All we can do is tell him how much we rate him, how much we want to support him and the rest is down to him.”
Balogun is enjoying a stellar loan spell at club level with French Ligue 1 side Stade Reims, scoring 17 league goals to date and keeping Will Still’s squad in the fight for a European qualification spot. The 21-year-old excelled in Arsenal’s academy and is already on the reported radar of several European clubs this summer.
USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson confirmed during the Americans’ two-match window that contact has continued with Balogun over a potential international future with the United States. Fellow Arsenal and USMNT player Matt Turner has also voiced his opinion over Balogun, stating the program “would be grateful” to have him onboard.
England senior national team manager Gareth Southgate was also asked about Balogun’s international future with Ollie Watkins and Eddie Nketiah being called up this month ahead of the youth national team star.
Balogun’s focus will turn back to Stade Reims this weekend with Ligue 1 play resuming, but with less than three months away from England European U-21 involvement, his decision will need to come sooner rather than later.
“I’ll just be making the point of how important he is to us,” Carsley said. “Hopefully we can talk a little bit about patience and understanding that he is going to have to keep doing what he’s doing to break through to the senior team.
“Like a lot of players in our squad, we’ve got a lot of players that are pushing,” Carsley added. “Hopefully he can see that. I’ve been there myself as a young player, you’re in a rush and you want to get there quickly. Hopefully I can convince him.”