Emile Smith Rowe weighs in on Folarin Balogun’s international future as USA look to poach England U21 star
Emile Smith Rowe has stated his desire for Arsenal team-mate Folarin Balogun to commit to joining him in the England setup.
The Three Lions Under-21 international is reportedly holding talks with the United States, the country of his birth, over switching allegiances following his fine form for Ligue 1 side Reims.
“Of course,” Smith Rowe told reporters when asked if he wants Balogun to commit to England. “But obviously it’s his decision.
“That’s down to him to do what he wants to do. It would be nice if he could be with us in the summer [for the U21 Euros] but like I said, that’s down to him and he’s got to do what’s best for him.”
The coming months promise to be a key moment in 21-year-old Balogun’s future.
After scoring 18 goals on loan in France, the striker is set for talks over what role he has to play at Arsenal.
That could follow a final decision on whether to represent the USA or stick with England, where he moved aged two after his Nigeria-born parents emigrated from New York.
Gareth Southgate would also like to keep Balogun on the Three Lions’ books yet has admitted he remains some way off being called up, and nor has he held any specific talks with the player to convince him to stay.
He said: “It is up to the player to weigh up where his heart feels. Is he prepared to wait a little bit for an opportunity if he backs himself and feels he can push his way into our squad? Because anybody who has followed us will know that we will give young players a chance.
“So, we cannot go and give first-team call-ups to someone just because we don’t want them to go somewhere else.
“We like Flo. He has obviously not had an opportunity in the Premier League yet, so we have to weigh up those goals to Ivan [Toney], for example, or Ollie Watkins. Or Eddie Nketiah, who has done really well with the opportunity he has had at Arsenal.
“I know there are going to be offers as 80 per cent of our players can play for more than one country now, and we are not arrogant expecting everybody to want to come to play for England. We have to make them feel wanted and feel part of that.
“Ultimately, it does not matter what you say. If you cannot give them the opportunity now, then some people are patient and want to see it through and are prepared to wait a bit and others want it now and I can totally understand that.”