In a significant development for WSL and on women’s football, Alessia Russo has made a highly anticipated move to Arsenal. This transfer not only adds immense talent to the Arsenal squad but also sets the stage for what promises to be an ambitious and exciting summer transfer window for the Gunners. With a host of formidable players already in their ranks, Arsenal Women finally look like a squad to reckon with and ofcourse rival the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea in the quest for women’s football dominance.
The rumors of Arsenal’s interest in Russo first surfaced during the January transfer window when David Ornstein’s report revealed that the Gunners had submitted a record-breaking bid of £450,000 to £500,000 for her. Although Manchester United Women turned down the offer and Russo had not actively pursued a move at the time, her eventual transfer to Arsenal was a long-anticipated development. But this time around, Arsenal have got it done. Snatching her right from under United’s noses.
Russo’s contributions to Manchester United Women cannot be understated. Throughout the season, she showcased her prowess on the field, scoring 10 goals and providing one assist in the league, along with two goals in cup competitions. Her performances, along with those of her teammates, propelled Manchester United to secure a place in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and compete for the league title. Russo’s departure undoubtedly leaves a void in that already weakened Manchester United squad…
Manchester United’s loss is undoubtedly a significant blow – losing a player of Russo’s caliber alongside the likes of Ona Batlle especially on a free transfer is never ideal. However, the club has made remarkable progress, securing Champions League football and reaching the FA Cup Final. Mark Skinner and his team now face the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for Russo to maintain their upward trajectory and compete for major honors next season.
Alessia Russo’s performance at Manchester United and for England women’s at the Euros showcased her remarkable skills and abilities on the big stage. Her style of play is a bit reminiscent to that of Stina Blackstenius – one that is characterized by clinical finishing and an uncanny knack for finding the back of the net. While Blackstenius is undoubtedly a formidable player, Russo’s goal-scoring prowess and ability to seize opportunities make her an excellent addition to the Arsenal squad. Speaking about the clinical-ity in front of goal – Russo scored ten in the league from an xG of 6.7 (an over-performance of 3.3) while Stina scored eight from an xG of 9.1 (an under-performance of 1.1) – now this is not a criticism of Stina, she was run to the ground owing to injuries in the Arsenal squad and that fatigue showed at times.
While both of them are very similar, one notable difference comes in involvements off-the-possession, Russo’s defensive numbers are about more than double of Stina. Again, this could also be a case for the quality of squad that Arsenal women possess and generally they are good at pinning down the opponents and finding spaces thereon. I feel this gives Arsenal and Jonas some quality depth to play with without changing much on play – which they have lacked for a while now especially with Viv taking up that second-striker role.
With the arrival of Russo, Arsenal’s squad is shaping up to be one of the strongest in women’s football. Arsenal boast an array of exceptional talents including but not limited to the likes of Beth Mead, Leah Williamson, Viviana Miedema, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Katie McCabe, and Kim Little, among others. Russo’s addition to this formidable lineup is akin to finding the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
Reflecting on Arsenal’s recent performance in the UEFA Women’s Champions League amid that injury crisis one cannot help but wonder what might have been had Russo joined the squad in January. The team’s valiant effort against Wolfsburg showcased their potential, but the absence of a clinical finisher like Russo proved costly. Her presence in the box could have turned the tide in favor of Arsenal, and they could have emerged as genuine contenders for the prestigious trophy.
Arsenal’s ambitious move for Russo signifies their determination to dominate women’s football both domestically and on the European stage. It is expected that the Gunners will continue to make significant signings in the coming weeks following the addition of Cloe Lacasse and Amanda Ilestedt solidifying their position as genuine contenders.
Now that Jonas has the offensive depth he was very vocal about for a while, Arsenal women’s supporters can look forward to an exhilarating season as the competition intensifies, and teams vie for supremacy.