USMNT confirm contact with Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun

US men’s national team interim manager Anthony Hudson confirmed he held talks with dual-nationality striker Folarin Balogun in Florida this week in a bid to convince the player to switch international allegiances.

The Arsenal striker – on loan at French side Reims – was originally called up to England’s Under-21 team for the March international window, before dropping out due to injury and traveling to Florida to train independently.

Efforts made by Hudson and US men’s national team officials represent US Soccer’s desire to secure further dual-national talents.

“As I’ve said before, we’ve had dialogue. We’ve spoken. He’s out here having a bit of a break and then some training, and we’ve had some discussions,” Hudson said during a virtual media availability on Thursday.

“I think it’s been good because it’s been an opportunity for us just to share about our program and who we are and what we do and that’s it. I hope we get the chance to speak to him again. It’s been good and I know a few of the guys have spoken to him as well.”

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Hudson added: “It’s been really important to make sure we’re doing all we can to engage with and, if there are any dual nationals out there that can help the team. We need to move forward and connect and engage and get these guys and see where they want to go and try and encourage them by showing what we’re doing. Hopefully, we get guys to come and come to us.”

The New York-born striker gained international attention for his involvement with Arsenal’s youth team and Middlesbrough. He has since impressed while on loan in France – Balogun is only behind Kylian Mbappe and Canada’s Jonathan David in the Ligue 1 scoring charts.

His efforts impressed England U21 manager Lee Carsley, inspiring a call up for Balogun before he departed for the United States. Prior to his exit, he gave no indication of a potential change. 

“You can’t twist someone’s arm to play for England,” Carsley said this week. “You know we can only make him feel as welcome as we can. We rate him highly. We’ve supported him when things weren’t great. We called him into the 21s when he was playing for Arsenal’s Under-23s because I knew what potential he had.”

In order to represent the US men’s national team, Balogun would need to complete FIFA’s one-time switch, a process that has not yet been started.

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