Back in his native Senegal during the MLS offseason, Badji laid down a bold marker for 2018 in an interview with local outlet Le Soleil, professing his dreams of representing his country as it prepares to take part in the World Cup for just the second time ever.
“Of course! I am Senegalese,” he said in the French-language interview when asked about his national team ambitions. “It's the only jersey I want to wear. I'm ready. It will really be an opportunity for me. After that, many doors will open for me.
“It's a good team. There are very good players but there are some pieces that are missing. I, as an attacker, can move on the left wing as on the right. We need an attacker who scores a lot of goals, an attacker who is dangerous in the area, and that's what I want to bring.”
Badji made marked progress in his third MLS season, bagging a team-high nine goals and six assists in 33 appearances (29 starts) for Colorado. In the longer term, he says he’s eyeing an eventual move overseas to Europe or China – but he hopes to earn a chance with Senegal much sooner.
“I think I can bring something more to this team,” he said of his potential value to Les Lions de la Teranga. “I have talent. I am the matches, I am the team and I know that I can bring something that will strengthen the team.”
Badji hasn’t yet spoken with with Senegal boss Aliou Cisse and his coaching staff, and he sounds realistic about his long odds of earning a roster spot for Russia 2018 – though he’s not giving up hope, either. Senegal have been drawn into World Cup Group H alongside Colombia, Poland and Japan.
“No, I do not have contact. It's really this year that it all started,” said Badji. “I know that my agent is working on this and I hope that within a year or two, I will be part of this team. I know it will be difficult to join this team before the World Cup because the team already has its players who fought to qualify.
“But I know that if it's not possible before the World Cup, there are many options for me: the Olympic Games, CAN [African Cup of Nations]. I will do everything to realize this dream. I'm waiting and I'm getting ready.”