Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun has opted to represent the United States at senior level, and FIFA approved a request by US Soccer to change his national eligibility from England on Tuesday.
Balogun, who starred in Ligue 1 with Reims on loan this season, has played for England up to under-21 level but now looks set to play for the USA team, which will co-host the upcoming Men’s World Cup in 2026.
The 21-year-old, who has scored 19 goals in the French top flight this season, was born in Brooklyn but grew up in London. Balogun was also eligible to play international soccer for Nigeria through his parents.
Balogun revealed that the decision was “obvious” after US Soccer confirmed the change. “My decision to represent the United States came together with my family,” he told the US Soccer website. “In the end, it became a no-brainer, but I’m sure it’s something I wanted to do and I feel like I’m at home here.
“Representing the United States means a lot, more than people know,” he added. “I am very proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team successful.”
Balogun’s decision to represent the USA comes five weeks before England play in the European Under-21 Championship, which is being hosted by Romania and Georgia. Lee Carsley’s team faces Germany, Israel and the Czech Republic in Group C.
The move is a blow to US Soccer, which courted Balogun on a visit to Florida in March. He is expected to be part of the USMNT roster for the Gold Cup, which will take place from June 24 to July 16 this summer.