The women’s team have kept busy during the summer transfer window and amidst the UEFA Women’s Euro, 2022 tournament. Manager Marc Skinner will be keen to build from last season, adding more veterans and title winners to the roster.
With so many players coming in and saying farewell to the club, let’s take a look at all the key signings, departures, and overall women’s summer transfers news ahead of the 2022-2023 season.
Summer signings and extensions
The team welcome Maya Le Tissier from Brighton & Hove, and French international Aissatou Tounkara, to bolster their defence. Le Tissier, despite her youth, has a breadth of WSL experience. She’ll strengthen the club’s defence and help build plays from the back. Le Tissier will most likely be in the thick of it once the season kicks off. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but her partnership with Ona Batlle could just be the next coming of Vidic and Rio at United.
As United’s seventh and most recent signing, French international Tounkara joined United on a two-year deal from Atletico Madrid. She helped France reach the Euro semis last month and will add tons of experience to the squad. Skinner revealed that the club had their eye on Tounkara for a while. She can impart invaluable knowledge to younger players, having a wealth of international and Champions League experience.
Midfielders and Wingers
Skinner added depth to the midfield and wings by signing Grace Clinton and Adrianna Leon. Clinton comes from Everton and is brimming with potential and creativity. She won’t be in the starting lineup immediately and will probably come on during cup ties, or off the bench. Clinton will have a lot to learn and develop, most likely from Ella Toone who usually plays in the number 10 role.
Leon provides some much-needed depth and innovation to the wings; Leah Galton and Kirsty Hanson having been the main options. She’s comfortable playing further up, making her a threat to opponents by drawing out defenders and making space for teammates. Leon’s just as comfortable dropping back, is a veteran on the international scene with an Olympic gold-medal, and a seasoned WSL player to boot.
Rounding out the attack are newcomers to the club, Rachel Williams, Nikita Parris, and Lucia Garcia. Having played for several Super League clubs, Williams will have a breadth of experience to share on the pitch. Her role in training and off the pitch will be just as important because she worked with Skinner in Birmingham. Having players who know their styles and philosophies are crucial for managers, so Skinner will rely on Williams to be a mentor.
Parris was the WSL’s all-time leading goalscorer with 49 goals, and announced halfway through the Women’s World Cup that she signed a three-year contract with Lyon. She helped the European giants win their fifth consecutive Champions League title, scoring four goals along the way. With a successful record at Lyon, Parris moved to Arsenal last season but struggled to settle under new management. While it’s tempting to judge her recent form, United are getting a player who’s proven herself at the best clubs. She’ll compete with Galton, Hanson, Williams, and Garcia, but Parris is comfortable on either wing or down the middle. A new start could be exactly what Parris needs to find her form and remind everyone why she’s one of the best.
Rounding up the summer signings is Garcia. Probably the player fans know the least, she can have the biggest impact and have the crowd singing her name. Garcia started in Spain’s group matches at Euro 2022 and the coaching staff believe that she completes United’s attack. She certainly adds a kind of ruthlessness that was missing from the squad last season. “We found ourselves against a lot of blocks last year so adding her ability to invade lines at the right time [is brilliant],” said Skinner. “[Garcia] also adds competition to this team and it keep us on the edge, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
A few familiar faces committed their futures to the club, with Lucy Staniforth and captain Katie Zelem extending their contracts. Millie Turner also adds options, returning after six months due to a rare condition known as carotid artery dissection.
Player departures, and looking ahead
United also said goodbye to several players during the summer transfer season. Tara Bourne went on loan to Birmingham City and Martha Harris joining her there, having been released from her contract. Several other players went on loan, with Ivana Fuso off to Bayer Leverkusen; Carrie Jones to Leicester City; Emily Ramsey to Everton; Signe Bruun returned to Lyon from her loan spell at United. Fran Bentley moved to Bristol City permanently, having spent last season there on loan. Kirsty Smith completed her transfer to West Ham and Diane Caldwell went to Reading.
It’s clear that Skinner is building a squad that plays his style of football and will believe in his coaching philosophies. The players will likely be eager to take on the new season with a more well-rounded squad and the likes of Toone, Alessia Russo, and Mary Earps contributing to England’s successful European Championship victory this past summer.
The WSL starts on September 10th where United travel to Tottenham for their opening match. They beat PSG 1-0 in the semi-finals of the Amos Women’s French Cup this week and play Bayern in the final. Skinner will want to build on this momentum and mount a title challenge for the 2022-2023 Women’s Super League title.