Southgate responds to cryptic Balogun social media message amid ‘aggressive’ USA recruitment

Will Ford
Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun celebrates scoring a goal

Gareth Southgate says he hasn’t spoken to Folarin Balogun about a potential call-up to the senior England squad, despite the risk of the Arsenal striker opting instead to play for other eligible nations.

Balogun – who withdrew from England under-21 duty this month –  has shone on loan with Reims in Ligue 1 this season, with the 21-year-old’s 17-goal haul only bettered by Kylian Mbappe and Jonathan David.

Balogun is eligible to represent England, Nigeria and the United States and posted an Instagram story shortly after Southgate named his squad that said “in life, go where you’re appreciated”.

Perhaps that was unrelated but US interim boss Anthony Hudson confirmed he held talks with the New York-born striker in Florida this week.

Southgate said: “I haven’t yet (spoken to Balogun) because to this point, he has been with the under-21s and very happy.

“Clearly other nations have been quite aggressive in their recruitment and what they are offering.

“That, in my experience of history, has sometimes been really successful for the players and sometimes hasn’t worked out. I’ve seen countries cap players at 16 or 17 and they’ve disappeared.

“In the end, as a player, I think you back yourself but you have got to ultimately make the decision.

“We would like him to give it some time and if he is progressing the way he is and continues that progression there will be opportunities for him but I cannot offer him that this week.

“I think if we did, I don’t think that would be fair on Ivan Toney who has scored the goals he has in the Premier League.

“Flo we like. He has obviously not had an opportunity in the Premier League, yet, so we have to weigh up those goals to Ivan, for example, or Ollie Watkins, or Eddie Nketiah who has done really well with the opportunity he has had at Arsenal.”

READ MORE: The multinational players whose eligibility England must secure before they lose to another country