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Arsenal talent gives Nigeria greenlight on his international future

My Football FactsArticles

By Martin Graham | 27th Oct 2022

Stade de Reims forward Folarin Balogun, on loan from Arsenal, has given three-time African champions, Nigeria, hope of securing his international future.

Balogun was born in New York, USA to Nigerian parents. His family emigrated to London, England when he was two years old. He has lived there ever since. He also started his football career there, joining Arsenal’s Hale End academy when he was seven years old.

Eligible to play for the USMNT, Nigeria and England, Balogun has been cutting his teeth on the international stages with England’s youth teams after a very brief stint with the USMNT under-18 team. He has amassed 11 goals in 26 games across England’s youth teams and is now being looked at for a potential call-up to the Three Lions senior squad.

His strong performances on loan in France with Reims where he is looking to impress Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, have also propped him up as another bright young talent. Balogun has scored seven time and provided two assists in 12 games for the club, who sit in 14th place in the French Ligue 1 table.

Balogun has now revealed that he is open to committing his international future to Nigeria in a recent interview. Speaking to BBC, Balogun said: “I haven’t heard anything from Nigeria, but I’m open to anything because Nigeria is very close to my heart.

“My family’s from there. I always have love for Nigeria. That’s a conversation that I need to have with people around me, my agent and obviously my family.

“But if I was asked about the opportunity to play for Nigeria, then I can have that conversation. But first I need to be asked.”

The 21-year-old striker will have some serious competition regardless of where he chooses to play. Victor Osimhen who, at the moment, is considered among the top three best young strikers in the world, sits atop the rankings in Nigeria. Balogun will also face competition from fellow Ligue 1 star Terem Moffi, who just sits above him in fourth place in the league’s top scorer rankings for the ongoing season.

In England, he will also face competition from many promising young forwards. However, he believes that his time at Reims will help him develop further enough to stake his claim to a place at Arsenal, Nigeria or England.

“I remember before I came here, I had a lot of advice telling me that this would be a good league for me to develop,” Balogun added.

“Now that I am here, I’m seeing the benefits of this league and I’m happy that I can help the team. You never know what the future might hold. I just try to focus on what I’m doing with the team and focus on the season.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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