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‘Don’t Expect To Walk Straight Into The Team For A Starting Spot,’ Alexi Lalas Warn Ligue 1 Youngster Over USMNT Switch

Written by Olaleye Oluwadamilola

Alexi Lalas has warned Ligue 1 youngster, Folarin Balogun by suggesting that the on loan Arsenal won’t necessarily walk into the USMNT side for an automatic starting spot because just because players pedigree was good doesn’t necessarily mean they live up to it as he warns that other strikers could challenge him.

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Speaking on the latest episode of his State of the Union Podcast on Wednesday, the Fox Sports analyst was asked if he thinks USMNT officials are ‘just renting the spot’ to other eligible American strikers until Balogun switches allegiances, having previously represented England at youth level.

The former USMNT defender Alexi has opened up on whether he thinks that New York City-born, Ligue 1 striker Folarin Balogun would live up to the hype if he committed to the Star and Stripes.

Lalas, who has 10 goals in 96 appearances for the US weighed in on the USMNT switch discussion, “I mean, so talk about anointing, right? I mean, it’s as if, basically, he has a starting position. He has, you know, the keys to the city and all the cities when it comes to America.”

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“No, I mean, just the decision, it becomes and hopefully it does because he is a good quality player, just the decision is great.”

“But then you have to actually get into it. And we have seen players that just because their pedigree was good doesn’t necessarily mean they come into the national team and they live up to it.”

“I hope that he does, because that is a position of need but don’t think for a second that others aren’t going to challenge him, even with less pedigree or less experienced going forwards.”


England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley is hoping to ‘convince’ Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun to commit his international future to the Three Lions, having pulled out of this month’s junior squad.

Balogun has a number of options at international level. He was born in the United States to Nigerian parents, but was raised in England from the age of two, making him eligible to represent all three.

The 21-year-old has almost exclusively played youth international football for England aside from a handful appearances for the United States at Under-18 level. He has also expressed an openness to playing for Nigeria, but was reported to have travelled to America for talks with USA coach Anthony Hudson upon recently withdrawing from England’s Under-21 squad.

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‘It’s a good thing, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get into it. But it looks good for now, and we’ve wooed him to the extent that we can or even should and you know now we’ll see if all that wooing pays off with him blessing us with his presence going forward.’

So far in 27 matches across all competitions this season, Balogun’s scored 17 goals for Reims, who are ninth in Ligue 1 standings, five years after being promoted to the elite tier of French soccer.

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