For those that have followed the trajectory of Yunus Musah's career it's not surprising that he made his full international debut more than two weeks before his 18th birthday. The young midfielder has always been moving forward at a remarkable speed.
Musah's career already includes stints at top clubs and the sort of transfer tug of war that most players do not experience until they are far older. That, at least, has prepared the young midfielder for another battle for his services.
Gregg Berhalter might have given him his first United States men's national team cap at the senior level but until Musah plays his first competitive international he is free to choose from any one of four national teams. Born in New York City, his Ghanaian parents raised him in the northern Italian town of Castelfranco Veneto before, at just nine years of age, they moved to east London where he had the chance to join the Arsenal Academy.
Those that know Musah well believe that his globetrotting start to life has allowed him to adapt with ease to everything his fledgling career has thrown his way, from starring for Valencia against Real Madrid in the Mestalla to his USMNT debut against Wales.
Berhalter and the US setup have been courting Musah over the past 18 months but the race to earn his international allegiances was not won at the Liberty Stadium. England have not given up on a player who they consistently promoted above his age group at youth level, handing him his Under-15 debut less than a month after his 14th birthday.
"I know John (McDermott, assistant FA technical director) has spoken with [Musah's] family, and they know where we sit with it," England head coach Gareth Southgate said.
"It sounds as though he's going to meet with America this time and experience that. That doesn't rule him out of being with us moving forward. So, we've just got to make sure that the boy and the family know that we think he's a good player, that he's on a good trajectory.
"We're monitoring him. He's been with us in the last couple of months and we'd very much like his future to be with us."
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Sources close to Musah have confirmed to CBS Sports that no decision has been made on which nation he will declare for. It would appear to be a two horse race between the USA and England. The youngster is relishing his experience with the USMNT, his beaming smile as he lined up with his team-mates for the pre-match photo was evidence enough of that, but he and his family are prepared to take as much time as they need to make a rational decision.
Doubtless it helps Musah that he has made a momentous decision already in his fledgling career. At the end of the 2018-19 season the 16-year-old's star was clearly on the rise at Arsenal, he was instrumental in helping his team win the Under-18 Premier League and scholarship terms were awaiting his signature. At the Hale End academy he was compared to Bukayo Saka not just for his prodigious talent but for his humble attitude, his respect of staff and team-mates and his exceptional work ethic.
Those qualities on and off the pitch had previously caught the attention of Juventus but when Valencia came calling in the summer of 2019 Musah felt the time was right to experience Spanish football and move to a club with a clearer path from academy to first team.
Arsenal's track record in developing young talent may be enviable but it is perhaps eclipsed by Valencia. As their academy director general Sean Bai notes, manager Javi Gracia deployed eight graduates in the 4-1 win over Real Madrid before the international break, and currently 25 players who learned their craft at the club are playing across Europe. CIES, an independent research group, rated the Valencia academy the fifth most productive in Europe.
It is, Bai notes, "the DNA of the club." Musah has quickly discovered that. After spending last season with the Mestalla youth team, he is now firmly established in Gracia's side, featuring in eight of their nine La Liga matches.
If Musah's swift progress appears to be a coup for the Spanish giants they would insist it is only because of the hard work of the player and staff around him that he has been able to go so far so fast.
Bai tells CBS Sports: "Many will claim to be the one who spotted talents like Yunus. It is, however, important to note that scouting is only the first step, and young players rarely arrive as the finished article.
"Yunus' developmental curriculum after arriving in Valencia is equally, if not more, important. Yunus has improved and developed by leaps and bounds thereafter. The exciting part is that there will be more to come.
"Yunus' footballing qualities are clear for all to see. More importantly, Yunus' positive attitude, adaptability and hunger made him a very good fit. This allowed him to settle into the club comfortably and also enabled him to get into the rhythm very quickly."
That attitude saw Musah learn Spanish fluently within two months of his arrival, all the better to grasp his coaches' instructions. Grasping them is certainly what he is doing as he impresses in an unfamiliar right wing role for Gracia's side.
After six largely impressive performances in a Valencia side that were stuttering out of the blocks early in the season Musah announced himself to the wider footballing world against Getafe with a goal that typifies the qualities coaches in Italy, England, Spain and the USA have seen in him.
After charging towards his opponent to try and block a cross, Musah was already moving at speed when a clearance from another former Arsenal player, Gabriel Paulista, came his way. His first touch exquisitely pushed the ball into space, his burst of acceleration kept him clear of Damian Suarez and his curled effort was comfortably beyond David Soria. He became Valencia's youngest scorer of the 21st century, quite the milestone at a club with an impressive track record of blooding academy prospects early.
"I think it's incredible at such a young age to score for a club with so much history in LaLiga," he said. "From the beginning everyone at Valencia CF has welcomed me very well. They had a good plan for me, helped me develop so much and I have learned so much during my time here -and I'm sure I'm going to learn so much more.
"I think this is a club with such a rich history. So many players have come up from the VCF Academy and, as you can see now, there's a place for them in the first team. It gives me motivation to keep going."
Of course it has been widely noted that but for the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on Valencia's finances and the resultant decision to sell a host of senior players - including midfielders Ferran Torres, Francis Coquelin, Dani Parejo and Geoffrey Kondogbia - a pathway would not have opened up for Musah and a string of other academy prospects.
What is more infrequently acknowledged is the impact the pandemic had on those younger players. Musah's senior debut against Levante on September 13 was the first competitive match he had played in over six months.
"In the academy, we try to prepare our players to be ready for the moment when the opportunity arises," Bai says. "When it happens, they must be ready to grab it. For all of our young players, including Yunus, the COVID-19 situation and lockdown were disastrous disruptions to their development.
"But when the opportunity came calling, we knew that he had the fortitude and right attitude to prove himself in the first team. Along with other academy graduates in the first team, he is in the right environment and club to continue developing into a world class footballer.
"As with all the other stars that have made it at our academy, they have the chance to light up the world stage with our first team and also the chance to prove themselves with their respective national teams.
"Yunus is no exception. We are certain that he will continue to captivate football fans both at the club and national level. And of course it will be our biggest pride to see him succeed at all levels."
Musah has already shown the potential to do exactly that but what could aid him even more in that journey is the self belief and bravery that have already seen him take hugely significant decisions for his career. They have already paid off handsomely and there is no reason to believe this remarkably mature young man won't make similarly shrewd judgements on and off the pitch in the years to come.