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Sporting News: Folarin Balogun, an Arsenal striker, chose the United States over England and Nigeria: Where is he from?


New U.S. striker Folarin Balogun is likely set to make his USMNT debut in the CONCACAF Nations League, either against Mexico in the semifinals or their subsequent match on Sunday.

Balogun's commitment to the United States national team represented a coup for U.S. Soccer, with the men's team struggling to produce a truly prolific striker over the past few years. The failure to reach the quarterfinals of another World Cup was partly down to the lack of a true goal-scoring threat, and Balogun's arrival has the potential to reverse that narrative.

At just 21 years old, Balogun burst onto the scene this season while on loan at French club Stade de Reims, scoring 21 goals across a strong Ligue 1 season. Whether he returns to his parent club Arsenal or is loaned out again for the coming campaign, Balogun's stock is soaring and he will immediately make a strong push for the starting striker role with the USA.

Balogun was recruited by all three countries he was eligible to represent, and his commitment was highly sought after.

MORE: How good is Folarin Balogun? A closer look at new USMNT youngster

Where is Folarin Balogun from?

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Folarin Balogun's international eligibility is unique, eligible to represent three different countries based on his background and heritage.

Balogun was born in New York City while his parents were visiting family in Brooklyn, making him a U.S. citizen by birth. He moved to England when he was just two years old, and grew up in London, where he was spotted by an Arsenal scout at the age of 10.

His parents are Nigerian, meaning he is eligible to represent the United States, England, and Nigeria on the international level.

Balogun represented both the USA and England at the youth level, but committed to the U.S. senior side in May of 2023.

Having seen his one-time switch approved by FIFA, Balogun is now officially tied to the USMNT and cannot represent any other nation per FIFA regulations.

With England's Harry Kane and Nigeria's Victor Osimhen both entrenched in the starting striker roles for those countries for some time to come, the United States afforded a chance for Balogun to start straight away, and now he has a chance to build an international career from the ground up at a young age.

What is Folarin Balogun's nickname?

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Folarin Balogun has been affectionately referred to as 'Flo' by coaches, teammates, and fans over the past few years, but he recently has expressed a preference for another nickname.

According to U.S. based reporter Michele Giannone, Folarin Balogun prefers to be called "Balo," something he expressed during his time at his first USMNT camp in June 2023.

Balogun has also been called "Balogunner" as a reference to his Arsenal roots and his prolific goal scoring talent.

Folarin Balogun career stats, goals

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While Folarin Balogun made headlines with his exceptionally prolific season on loan in France in 2022/23, it was not his first action with a senior side.

Balogun made his Arsenal debut in the 2020/21 season, making five brief substitute appearances in the Europa League and impressing with two goals and an assist.

He then started their Premier League season opener the following campaign against Brentford in a 2-0 defeat, and later appeared off the bench in a loss to Chelsea the following match. However, he wouldn't remain on the Arsenal squad for long that year, shipped off to the second tier before the transfer window closed.

The youngster's first real taste of extended senior-level football came on loan at Middlesborough in the 2021/22 campaign in the second-tier Championship, where he contributed three goals and three assists coming mostly off the bench, as Boro finished seventh in the table.

Competition Club Apps Goals Assists Mins
2020/21
Europa League
Arsenal 5 2 1 63
2021/22
Premier League
Arsenal 2 0 0 70
2021/22
EFL Cup
Arsenal 2 0 0 63
2021/22
Championship
Middlesborough 18 3 3 895
2021/22
FA Cup
Middlesborough 3 0 0 181
2022/23
Ligue 1
Stade de Reims 37 21 3 3,012
2022/23
Coupe de France
Stade de Reims 2 1 0 134

Sources


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