Folarin Balogun offers hint over England future with thinly-veiled dig

FA confirm Gareth Southgate to stay on as England manager

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On-loan Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun has appeared to send a thin-veiled dig at England manager Gareth Southgate after being snubbed for March’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine. The 21-year-old is enjoying a successful loan spell at Ligue 1 side Reims, where he has scored 17 goals in 27 games across all competitions.

The striker is eligible to play for England and Nigeria, but he can also play for the USA as he was born in New York. Balogun has represented both England and the USA at youth level – but is yet to earn his first senior international cap.

He turned out for England’s U21s earlier this season in friendlies against Italy and Germany, scoring in the latter fixture. But with his stock rising due to his form in France, Balogun may have been hoping Southgate would call him up to his Three Lions squad for March’s games against Italy in Naples and Ukraine at Wembley.

The call didn’t come and Southgate went with captain Harry Kane and in-form Ivan Toney as his two recognised strikers, and Balogun has appeared to send a dig at Southgate on social media in a boost to the USA and Nigeria. “In life go where you’re appreciated. Be easy,” Balogun wrote on his Instagram story.

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The USA are laying the groundwork to have Balogun on their roster with the home World Cup just three years away. Caretaker coach, Anthony Hudson, is trying to convince the player to commit his international future to the country.

“All I’ll say, there is open dialogue with him and his team,” Hudson told reporters, as reported by Goal. “That dialogue is continuing. That’s all I can say.”

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The USA national team are also hoping to secure more dual-nationals. Hudson added: “It’s been really important to make sure we’re doing all we can to engage with and, if there are any dual nationals out there that can help the team, we need to move forward and connect and engage and get these guys and see where what they want to do and try and encourage them by showing what we’re doing. Hopefully, we get guys to come and come to us.”

Balogun’s potential coupled with his goal-scoring form also played him into a long-term contract at Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta is delighted with his progression. Speaking on Balogun last month, Arteta said: “When you look at the numbers and what he is doing, it’s just incredible. It’s very rare to see that. But he’s got something special, that’s why we decided to give him a long-term contract and have faith in him and give him the long period that he needs now, because the loan he is having now is really different to the one he had before at Middlesbrough.”

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