Alessia Russo 'really looking forward' to season with Man Utd amid uncertain future | OneFootball

Alessia Russo 'really looking forward' to season with Man Utd amid uncertain future

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England’s Euro 2022 breakout star Alessia Russo has said she is ‘really looking forward’ to the 2022/23 WSL season with Manchester United and will leave the question about her uncertain longer-term future at the club for ‘other people to deal with’.

Having scored nine WSL goals last season in what was a breakout year for her at club level after coming back from a lengthy spell out injured, Russo was catapulted into the limelight last month thanks to her game-changing performances en-route to Euro 2022 glory with the Lionesses.

The 23-year-old didn’t start any of England’s six matches but made huge impacts from the bench throughout the tournament, particularly against Spain in the quarter-final and Sweden in the semi-final, netting an incredible backheel nutmeg goal to kill the game off in the latter tie.

Russo was already a firm favourite among United’s loyal support, but the summer properly introduced her and club-mate Ella Toone to the more casual women’s football fan and both players were given increasingly rapturous welcomes from the crowd each time they were brought on.

As far as her club career is concerned, Russo has entered the option year of the contract she signed when she joined United in 2020. The childhood fan, who scored twice on a dream day at Old Trafford in March, was reported shortly before Euro 2022 to have rejected an offer of a new deal.

Since then, Russo’s own market value has soared because of her performances for England and her rising public profile. United have also been active in the transfer market building attacking depth in a squad that lacked it at times last season – Adriana Leon, Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia have already arrived in forward positions, with a deal for Nikita Parris also imminent.

“The game is changing so quickly. I love my time at Manchester United and I’m really looking forward to this season,” Russo told Sky Sports News on Thursday.

“[I’ll] see what happens, I love playing for the club, it’s an honour and I’m a Manchester United fan. The club is amazing and the team is amazing, so I’m really looking forward to this season.”

Pressed on her long-term future beyond this season, Russo declined to give any firm answers.

“That’s not my job,” she said. “I’m just there to go out and play football, enjoy it and play with my team. That’s for other people to deal with. I just love playing football.”

United’s ongoing ambition remains to break into the WSL top three and qualify for the Women’s Champions League for the first time. The club has consistently finished fourth since arriving in the WSL in 2019 and has come agonisingly close to achieving their goals in each of the last two years.

Last season in particular, key isolated moments and dropping points from winning positions in the closing stages of a handful of games they had failed to kill off proved to the difference. That is why recruitment has focused so heavily on building attacking depth, with manager Marc Skinner regularly preaching the importance of having different options to unlock stubborn defences.

Skinner is a big fan of Russo in particular, stating last season, “The way that she strikes the ball is very unique in women’s football, getting the power levels. What Alessia has is unique abilities to hold the ball really well, to join play. If she gets half a yard to shoot, she’s deadly. She can have it all.

“…you’ve not even seen half of [her potential] yet.”

While Russo is ‘loving’ playing for United now, how she and the club fare during the forthcoming season could prove to be defining for her future.

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