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'Folarin Balogun will bring a fiery edge to USMNT' - Matt Turner on what he expects from Arsenal team-mate ahead of striker's potential debut against Mexico in Nations League

Folarin Balogun Reims 2022-23Getty Images
  • Turner praises 'fiery' Balogun
  • Duo trained together briefly at Arsenal
  • Striker's debut could come against Mexico

WHAT HAPPENED? Turner and Balogun spent a brief period together at club level before the striker was loaned to Reims for the 2022-23 season. He went on to become one of the breakout goalscorers in world soccer, scoring 21 times in Ligue 1 to ignite a battle over his international future.

The U.S., ultimately, won that battle, with Balogun joining up ahead of the Nations League semifinal against Mexico for what should be his first USMNT cap. And Turner is excited to have him involved as Balogun has the potential to be the USMNT's go-to No.9 for years to come.

WHAT THEY SAID: "With Flo, it's a great situation," Turner said. "It's another dual national that the federation has gone out and been able to convince to come play and I think that's not just the federation, but it speaks really highly of the people that we have in the locker room.

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"I think that Flo's a really talented player that's going to bring fiery edge to the group. He's a super competitive guy and I think that fits in really well with the sort of people that we have in this locker room already. He's going to be a great addition. It creates more competition at that number nine spot and when you have competition, that just elevates everyone's game."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Turner heads to the USMNT after a big club season as well, having served as Arsenal's backup as they pushed for a Premier League title. The Gunners' ended up falling short, with Manchester City winning the Premier League, but Turner says his initial season of top-flight European soccer made a massive impact on him as a player and as a person, even if he didn't play as much as he would have liked.

"Off the field, moving to a new country, experiencing new cultures and new styles of play, a new manager with different expectations, playing with pressure and all that kind of stuff led me into the World Cup and having a great World Cup," he said. "I think obviously this season was amazing at Arsenal. I learned so much and we won games, but I would have liked to play a little bit more. On the personal side, I didn't hit as many goals as I would have really liked to.

"When you say you solidified yourself as a No.1 [with the national team], I never really view myself as that. I'm always the type of person to think about how I can go one step further and keep pushing the boundaries and keep proving myself because, in my career, there's always been this blanket of lack of experience that people talk about since I was in college, then my first couple years as a pro in MLS, and the beginning of my career with the national team and now with Arsenal. I'm just trying to get more and more experience, so every time I can step on the pitch, I want to give my best performance so I can continue to grow and show that I do have experience and I have learned and I have grown and I've gotten better."


Folarin Balogun USMNT 2023Getty ImagesMatt Turner Arsenal 2022-23Getty

WHAT NEXT? The U.S. are set to face Mexico on July 15 before taking on either Canada or Panama in the Nations League final or third-place game, depending on the result against El Tri.

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