After persuading Yunus Musah to commit to them, United States are now hot on the trail of another in the shape of Arsenal starlet Folarin Balogun – but who is he?
Balogun actually has a very similar career trajectory to Musah – who he is close to having spent a number of years together at The Emirates.
Musah decided against staying at Arsenal last year and instead opted to leave North London and head for Spain, where he signed for Valencia.
Initially joining Valencia’s youth side, he was soon promoted to the first-team and has made huge strides. He’s recently been handed a long-term deal as a reward for his progress. He’s already been mentioned as a potential transfer target for Liverpool too.
During this time, Musah has also taken the decision to play for USA. That’s despite having the chance to play for England – who he represented at youth level – Italy and Ghana, where his parents are from.
And US Soccer is so excited by Musah. They believe they have a generational talent to add to their squad. And now they want another….
The career paths of Musah and Balogun seem very similar. However, it must be recognised that Balogun has also made the breakthrough with Arsenal. He has played for the first-team during their Europa League campaign and impressing with a couple of goals.
Balogun is a few years older, now 19, than Musah as the same stage, but he is now faced with very similar decisions.
Arsenal, like with Musah, are desperate for him to stay put. He signed his current and first professional deal in 2019 which is due to expire in the summer. For obvious reasons, Arsenal hope to pin the striker down to a new contract.
Not for the first time in his career, Balogun now has some big decisions to make. When he was just 10, he had the first choice of his career to make. With Arsenal hoping to snap him him, it’s emerged he was also talking with arch-rivals Tottenham. At that moment he chose The Gunners, but it remains to be seen if he chooses them again.
Balogun has more than one big choice to make next year – not just regarding his club future, but also on the international front.
Balogun to decide international future
Balogun, like his good friend Musah, has a number of options at senior level. The Arsenal man – again like Musah – is American-born, but he can play for England and Nigeria also.
He has already played for England and USA at youth level. But now he is set for a big decision with US football authorities ready to hand him a sernior call-up. The lure of possibly playing alongside Musah, they hope, will be too great.
Balogun himself admitted last year that despite his varying commitments so far, be it with England and the US, he has not decided his international fate. Indeed, he could yet commit to Nigeria, the homeland of his parents.
So who will Balogun be playing for in 2021? We don’t know for sure but it is going to be a very exciting wait.