‘He’s got to do what’s best for him’: Emile Smith Rowe joins debate raging over Arsenal team-mate Folarin Balogun’s international future, after the England U21 striker held private talks with the USMNT
- Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun has a decision to make on his international future
- He plays for England’s U21 side, but he could also represent the USMNT
- Emile Smith Rowe hopes his Arsenal team-mate will choose to play for England
Emile Smith Rowe has given his thoughts over the debate surrounding Arsenal team-mate Folarin Balogun’s international future.
England are hoping the highly rated striker will commit his future to them, having made 13 appearances for their U21 side.
The USMNT remain in the hunt for the New York born prospect however, and they have held talks with the striker and his representativbes.
There will be an increased desire from parties to nail down Balogun’s senior international future, given that he is second in the Ligue 1 scoring chart with 17 goals out on loan at Reims.
Smith Rowe was asked to give his opinion on the matter following England U21’s 4-0 victory over France on Saturday.
Folorin Balogun has a decision to make over whether to play for England or the USMNT
Balogun’s stock has increased during his loan spell at Reims where he has netted 17 goals
He told reporters: ‘Of course (I would prefer he choose England), but obviously it’s his decision.
‘That’s down to him to do what he wants to do. It would be nice if he could be with us in the in the summer (for the European U21 championship) but like I said, that’s down to him and he’s got to do what’s best for him.’
Balogun recently hinted at a USMNT switch after being snubbed from Gareth Southgate’s senior squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
He took to Instagram to post a story with the caption ‘In life, go where [you’re] appreciated.’
The move comes just a day after the USMNT expressed interest in attempting to lure the youngster to the Stars and Stripes.
USA’s interim head coach Anthony Hudson confirmed that the team had opened talks with Balogun and his representatives over a potential switch.
‘All I’ll say, there is open dialogue with him and his team,’ Hudson told reporters last week. ‘That dialogue is continuing. That’s all I can say.’
Balogun also recently traveled to Orlando to enjoy a break after pulling out of international duty with injury from Lee Carsley’s U21 side.
England boss Gareth Southgate said Balogun will have to be patient if he is to play for the Three Lions, with his lack of Premier League experience a reason behind why he has not been selected for the senior squad to date.
Emile Smith Rowe hopes his Arsenal team-mate chooses to represent England at senior level
Gareth Southgate has urged Balogun to be patient if he is to play for the senior squad while interim USA head coach Anthony Hudson has spoken to the youngster and his representatives
Speaking in a press conference, Southgate said: ‘It is up to the player to weigh up where his heart feels. Is he prepared to wait a little bit for an opportunity if he backs himself and feels he can push his way into our squad?
‘Because anybody who has followed us will know that we will give young players a chance. So, we cannot go and give first-team call-ups to someone just because we don’t want them to go somewhere else.
‘We like Flo. He has obviously not had an opportunity in the Premier League yet, so we have to weigh up those goals to Ivan [Toney], for example, or Ollie Watkins. Or Eddie Nketiah, who has done really well with the opportunity he has had at Arsenal.
‘I know there are going to be offers as 80 per cent of our players can play for more than one country now, and we are not arrogant expecting everybody to want to come to play for England. We have to make them feel wanted and feel part of that.
USA star Christian Pulisic has also been on the recruitment drive insisting the team would ‘love’ to have Balogun play for them.