England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley is hoping to ‘convince’ Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun to commit his international future to the Three Lions, having pulled out of this month’s junior squad.
Balogun has a number of options at international level. He was born in the United States to Nigerian parents, but was raised in England from the age of two, making him eligible to represent all three.
The 21-year-old has almost exclusively played youth international football for England aside from a handful appearances for the United States at Under-18 level. He has also expressed an openness to playing for Nigeria, but was reported to have travelled to America for talks with USA coach Anthony Hudson upon recently withdrawing from England’s Under-21 squad.
Speaking after his side lost to Croatia this week, Carsley admitted that the junior lions ‘missed’ Balogun, who has been in fine form at club level on loan at Reims this season.
“Ultimately, he is going to have to make a decision,” Carsley said. “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.
“’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.”
Balogun is yet to make the senior breakthrough at Arsenal and struggled to have an impact during a loan at Middlesbrough last season. But his record at Reims, where he is coached by managerial prodigy Will Still, has seen him score 17 goals in 27 Ligue 1 appearances so far.
90min understands that Arsenal don’t currently have any plans to let Balogun leave but will hold potentially decisive talks with the player about his future.
“Contractually I have to go back,” he said recently. “Because the loan was only for one year so that was always the agreement. I’m not sure what is going to happen in the future. A lot could happen in football, a lot could change, and it just depends on the conversations we have between me and the club in the summer, and we’ll see what happens.”