Huge England blow as Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun switches allegiance to USA national team

Huge England blow as Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun switches allegiance to USA national team

Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun has chosen to represent the United States national team after rejecting a future with England.

FIFA confirmed on Tuesday it has approved a request by the US Soccer Federation to change Balogun's national eligibility from England.

Balogun has been in demand after a breakout season in France on loan to Reims from Arsenal.

He has 19 goals and dueled with Kylian Mbappe for part of the season to be the league top scorer. Mbappe now leads with 26 for Paris Saint-Germain.

“It came together with my family,” Balogun said. “We decided it’d be the right thing for me to represent the country I was born in. In the end it became a no-brain. It’s just something I wanted to do and it feels like I’m at home here.

“To represent the United States means a lot, more than people would know. I’m very proud and honoured to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team successful.”

England Under-21 international Balogun was born in Brooklyn though his Nigerian parents had been living in London.

“My parents were on holiday there for a few months because we have family in New York,” Balogun said in an interview with the Ligue 1 website this season. “But very soon after I was born, we all moved back to London.”

Balogun also acknowledged: “London is my city, it's where I grew up, where my friends are, and if people ask me where I'm from, I say I'm English. But, yes, I am a mixture of all these cultures.”

The 21-year-old played for England and the USA at youth level before establishing himself in the England U21s.

His decision to represent the United States comes five weeks before England plays in the Under-21 European Championship being hosted by Romania and Georgia. The English Football Association also had to consent to the change of eligibility.

FIFA rules allow players to change national eligibility before playing in a competitive game at senior level.

The US courted Balogun on a visit to Florida in March and can select him for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which it hosts from June 24 to July 16.