On-loan Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun has chosen to represent the United States at the international level, he, the USMNT, and FIFA announced today. Balogun had played for England at youth levels but applied to switch to represent the U.S., a request which was granted today. He was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents and was raised in England — he was eligible to represent all three countries.
Balogun is having a tremendous season on-loan with Reims in Ligue Un. He’s scored 19 goals — 13 from open play, 6 from penalties — which was a record for an Englishman in the French league. Not surprisingly, that goal total is also a record for an American in France.
The switch is an excellent decision for Balogun from an international perspective. Right now, England have a glut of talented strikers — Harry Kane, Ivan Toney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham, and more. On the other hand, the biggest knock on the United States at the World Cup was their lack of a true #9. Balogun immediately becomes the favorite to win that spot long-term for the USMNT.
His Arsenal future is a bit murkier. He’s under contract with the Gunners through summer 2025, but his breakout season in France has caught the eye of clubs around Europe. A route to first team football / playing time was a sticking point that nearly lead to him leaving the Gunners in 2021. Since then, Arsenal have added Gabriel Jesus and extended Eddie Nketiah’s contract, who is represented by the same firm as Balogun. Not much has changed, there is still a logjam at striker.
Balogun is one of the players who may be leaving the Emirates this summer. Not because Arsenal don’t rate him but because his stock is extremely high and the Gunners may need substantial funds for other business this summer. If Arsenal sell him, you’d hope the club put some kind of buyback or right of first refusal into the deal, but those clauses cost money and would lower the actual transfer fee.
Whatever the outcome, Arsenal are in a fantastic position with Balogun. I’m struggling to think of a more successful loan spell. And Balogun is in a great position, as well. He’s one of the hottest young strikers in Europe and looks to have secured himself a spot at the next two World Cups with the USMNT as long as he stays in form and continues to develop.