Huge confusion as USMNT target Folarin Balogun named in England Under-21 squad despite attempts to convince Arsenal loanee to join team USA
- Balogun is US dual-national
- Posted cryptic message after England senior snub
- But included in 26-man U21 squad
WHAT HAPPENED? The in-form forward has 17 goals in 28 matches whilst on loan at Reims this season from Premier League leaders Arsenal. But that tally wasn't enough to see him get a call-up to England's senior squad, with Brentford's Ivan Toney brought in instead and Balogun posting a cryptic message on social media reading: "Go where you're appreciated". A day after that post, and the USMNT target was included as part of Lee Carsley's 26-man squad to face France and Croatia later this month.
Lee Carsley has picked 26-man #YoungLions squad for March, as preparations continue for this summer's #U21EURO finals 🏴— England (@England) March 17, 2023
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: United States men's national team interim coach Anthony Hudson admitted earlier this week that he had been in "open dialogue" with Balogun over an allegiance switch, which is why his inclusion in England's latest U21 squad is a surprise. It is worth noting, however, that this is just a preliminary list and does not necessarily mean the Reims forward has accepted the call up.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Born in New York City, Balogun is one of the USMNT's many dual-nationals, and even made four appearances for the Stars and Stripes at U18 level. His last appearance for the Three Lions' U21 side came back in September 2022 in a 3-1 win over Germany, where he scored England's equaliser.
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Given his cryptic message message posted on Thursday, it remains to be seen whether Balogun will accept the call. If not, the 21-year-old will likely send a clear message that he wants to represent the USMNT going forward.