Folarin Balogun leaves England’s U21 camp after hinting at potential USMNT switch
The on-loan Arsenal forward left the Three Lions’ training camp on Tuesday and the US coach has opened a dialogue with the player.
On-loan Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun has been in sensational form this season for Stade Reims, scoring 17 goals in 27 appearances in the French top flight. The 21-year-old is Ligue 1′s joint-third highest scorer this season, out-scoring the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar.
This incredible break-through season in France has earnt him a call-up to England’s under-21s squad to face France and Croatia. However it was announced on Tuesday that Balogun had been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury.
Balogun will miss an opportunity to turn out for the Three Lions this international break, but there are suggestions that he is contemplating a dramatic switch of allegiance.
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The young forward has proved himself to be one of Europe’s most promising stars with his displays this season, even scoring a 95th-minute equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain back in January.
Arsenal are said to be monitoring his performances closely, with an eye on bringing him back to the Emirates Stadium next season.
But, as of yet, he is yet to be called up to the full England squad and posted a cryptic Instagram story after being omitted from Gareth Southgate’s selection.
“In life, go where [you’re] appreciated,” the youngster wrote.
Most players have no choice when it comes to their international allegiance, but Balogun is actually eligible to play for both Nigeria and the USMNT in addition to the Three Lions. The New York-born striker could still make the switch to his country of birth and reports suggest that talks have already been held with the United States’ set-up.
Last week USMNT caretaker manager Anthony Hudson confirmed that the federation was actively seeking to recruit Balogun, who had previously seemed out of reach.
“All I’ll say, there is open dialogue with him and his team,” Hudson said. “That dialogue is continuing. That’s all I can say.”
So is the USMNT going to pick up one of the most exciting young strikers in European football? There has been no clear indication from the player as of yet, but if the form of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Ivan Toney continues Balogun may feel that a switch to the USMNT is his best chance of playing regular international football.
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