·1 February 2023
·1 February 2023
Manchester United manager Marc Skinner has revealed that he didn’t speak to Alessia Russo on Monday or Tuesday of this week when Arsenal were reported to have submitted multiple world record bids for the forward, leaving proceedings to head of women’s football Polly Bancroft.
But Skinner explained that he did hold a ‘really positive’ meeting with Russo on Wednesday morning following the end of the transfer deadline, calling it an ‘easy conversation’ and praising the attitude and dedication to the club she has already shown in training.
With a contract that expires in summer, Russo’s future remains up in the air and she could yet leave as a free agent come the end of the season, which made it a calculated gamble on the part of the club to refuse to sell her and stick firmly to a plan that includes her.
Naturally, Skinner was asked at length about the Russo situation at his press conference on Wednesday ahead of a weekend clash with Everton in the WSL.
“The reality was we had a busy day because we were training and doing our work. I’ll be very clear, the whole reason Polly [Bancroft] has come in is to look at strategy and so on. I deal with the players, so I don’t know if there were offers or players [offered] in exchange,” he explained.
“But what is very clear is that Alessia Russo is a Manchester United player. If there were bids, they were turned down. I don’t know, I haven’t asked and I don’t really care [if there were bids]. It’s about what we’re trying to build here. We have a vision and know what we want to achieve.
“I think it’s a credit to Alessia and Manchester United that teams are even interested,” he added.
Skinner questioned the accuracy of some of the reporting, but continued: “I spoke to Alessia this morning and we’ve had a really good meeting, really positive.
“I can’t stress enough that Alessia is the nicest person, the best kid, great attitude, exactly someone we are looking to keep here and keep in negotiations around that.
“It was an easy conversation this morning. She wants to win here. I just reiterated that me and her have always had this relationship where it’s business on the field and we’ll look after each other and her being a better player and this club being a better team. She’s the best to speak to because she’s so focused on being successful. I can’t speak any higher of her attitude and the way she gets on with her job. We’ve shared a real good moment, she was really positive and she has trained really well.
“I’m going to try everything in our power [to keep her a Man Utd player next season]. There are always factors and I’ve never really hidden anything. There are things we need to work out. But actually, I think she has a real love for this club and we have a real love for her. I would be very hopeful and we’re going to working off the field for that. But on the field, me and Alessia will just be working for this club’s success. I would hope [she will stay].
“I love Alessia’s qualities and what she adds to our group, so it is huge for us to continue what we started. It shows whatever was reported, I genuinely don’t know and don’t ask because what’s the point if we want to keep the player, I can focus now on [Everton].
“Getting us back to focus is the most important. But it shows a lot about our club. We’re building, helping these players progress, giving them the platform of being top players, and why would we want to stop that? We are the biggest club in the whole world. It’s about keeping the momentum. Just because we keep Alessia, we don’t have any rights – we’ve got to work and earn that. It’s a huge statement for us to say to her as well, we value you and want to build around you.”
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