Manchester United confirmed the signing of England youngster Alessia Russo during the week. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has signed a two-year deal with the club.
Manchester United have had a busy week in the transfer window after announcing three high profile signings including World Cup winner Tobin Heath from the Portland Thorns and Christen Press from Utah Royals. They hinted at another player announcement and it was confirmed by the club that Alessia Russo would be joining the squad for the next two years.
For a lot of women’s football fans, Alessia Russo is one of the new kids on the block. At just 21, she has spent the last three years playing professional college football over in America for the North Carolina Tar Heels. While over in the States she made 57 appearances scoring 28 goals and receiving a few individual accolades along the way including being a semi-finalist for the Hermann Trophy and most valuable player in the 2019 ACC Tournament.
The University of North Carolina is known for its excellent soccer programme with former US Coach Anson Dorrance coaching the team since 1979. The Tar Heels have won 21 of the 31 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships through Dorrance’s leadership with Russo appearing in the final loss against Harvard last year. It has some very decorated alumnus too with players such as Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Russo’s England teammate Lucy Bronze, Heather O’Reilly and new Man Utd teammate Tobin Heath.
Speaking about Russo, Dorrance has said: “We knew Alessia was a jewel before she got here. We saw her with the English national youth teams playing our U.S youth teams in California in February of 2016, so we knew she could play”.
One good thing that Alessio Russo has going for her heading in to the new season is her international experience. Russo has been involved in the England ranks for many years and scoring goals at every level she has played at. She was a key player for the Lionesses in their Under 17 World Cup scoring five goals, she also has a youth Women’s World Cup medal to add after the young Lionesses won Bronze at the 2018 World Cup tournament.
Russo was called up for her first senior camp in February 2020 for the SheBelieves Cup in America and was initially named as a training player for the trip but was then added to the squad following an injury to defender Lucy Bronze. Russo received her second England call up last week after being named in Phil Neville’s squad for the September training camp.
Since signing for Man Utd, Russo has stated just how excited and happy she is to be joining the team and highlighted Casey Stoney as a defining factor in her making her choice. When speaking about her move she said “I first spoke to Casey [Stoney] in the summer and her vision was really inspiring and reeled me in”.
She continued saying: “I’ve always been a fan of Manchester United and, now they’ve got a women’s team, I can’t wait to start.
‘I would love to compete for trophies, that’s always been my ambition. To compete for Champions League, I think that’s our target, so there’s a big season ahead”.
Man Utd manager Casey Stoney spoke highly of Russo saying: “Alessia is a real talent and I’m delighted she’s joining the club.
“She’s had some great success over the last few years whilst playing in the US college system but its brilliant to see her back in this league.
Manchester United finished fourth in the Women’s Super League table last season after the FA decided to finish the season via points per game system. It was their first season in the top division of Women’s football following a year in the championship where they finished as Champions.
Talking about their summer business, Stoney said: “When you sign the three players we signed this week it does make a statement.
“If you look at the quality of the league in terms of the players now here it is definitely the best WSL I have ever known.
A number of high profile players have joined the WSL this season with Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle signing for Manchester City, US teammates Tobin Heath and Christen Press joining Mewis and Lavelles’ rivals Man Utd, Pernille Harder made the switch from Wolfsburg to last season’s Champions Chelsea and it was announced on Sunday that Alex Morgan will also be playing in the WSL this season after agreeing a deal with Tottenham Hotspur.
To reiterate Casey Stoney’s statement of it being the best WSL season she has ever known with the quality of players and coaches involved in the league, I’m sure we will be seeing some high quality performances across the league and it will only better the game and the league for many seasons to come.