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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Man Utd sign Norway international Lisa Naalsund

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Manchester United have made Norway international Lisa Naalsund their third signing of the January transfer window following the arrivals of Jayde Riviere and Estelle Cascarino at the weekend.

Naalsund joins from SK Brann in her homeland and has signed a three and a half year contract with United until the summer of 2026. Only Ella Toone currently has a deal as long.

The 27-year-old arrives in Manchester to a couple of familiar faces in international colleagues Vilde Boe Risa and Maria Thorisdottir.

United head of women’s football Polly Bancroft has described Naalsund as a ‘proven winner’ and a sign of the club’s ambition to ‘finish as high up the WSL table as possible’.

Naalsund herself said, “Manchester United is a great football club and I’m very excited to be here. The club is full of nice people and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of the amazing fans. It’s great to come to a club that has everything to play for this season – I love that.”

Meanwhile, United manager Marc Skinner commented, “We’re excited to welcome Lisa to Manchester United; where she will bring a wealth of top-level experience, playing in the heart of midfield. Her mentality, box to box driving runs, and desire to win, will continue to add a variance of skill and quality to the team. We look forward to integrating her into our group.”

Marc Skinner has said more than once in recent months that Manchester are ‘no way near done’ when it comes to building a squad that can consistently challenge for success and the addition of Naalsund is one more step in that direction.

United haven’t been limiting themselves to domestic markets and have long had their eye on players from further afield, even if the red tape surrounding work permits and securing GBEs for overseas targets has previously proven to be frustrating.

Although the core players in United’s strongest XI have largely gone unchanged for several seasons, Skinner has been keen to put his own stamp on the squad he inherited from predecessor Casey Stoney in 2021 and this season has seen that in a big way. As many as seven new faces arrived in the summer and three more now make 10 in total in a relatively short space of time.

The challenge for Naalsund will be commanding a place in the team. She only recently expressed concern about the stiff competition in United’s midfield, especially only a few months out from the World Cup in summer and the problems that compatriot Boe Risa has encountered.

Ultimately, the length of her contract suggests United are in this one for the long haul. So even if Naalsund doesn’t feature particularly regularly to begin with while she adapts to life in the WSL and learns the principles the team plays with – something Skinner places particular importance on – the expectation is that she will have an important role next season and beyond.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter!

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