Alessia Russo of England during a session at RBNY Training Facility England Women's Football Team Camp, RBNY Training Facility, Whippany, USA - 07 Mar 2020 Photo: Lynne Cameron for The FA

Lionesses striker signs for Manchester United

The England international striker Alessia Russo has signed for Manchester United, the club’s official website has reported.

The 21-year-old forward has been playing with North Carolina Tar Heels for the past three seasons. In that time, she has made 57 appearances and scored 28 goals. In August, Russo announced on her Twitter account that she was leaving the college team, ‘due to the uncertainty of the current situation’.  She has now chosen United as the next step in her career and has signed her first professional contract with the club.

Russo is a product of Chelsea’s academy, having captained the Development Squad there. She only made one appearance for the senior team before leaving; first to Brighton & Hove Albion and then to America. The Maidstone-born striker also rose through the ranks of the England youth set-up and comes with growing international pedigree. She received her first senior England cap as part of their SheBelieves squad in March and has also been named in Phil Neville’s training squad for next week’s camp at St George’s Park.

The deal comes hot on the heels of the announcement that FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning American pair Tobin Heath and Christen Press will be spending the year at United. While Heath and Press will be unavailable this weekend due to the quarantine restrictions for visitors from the United States to the UK, Russo has already quarantined for two weeks and will go straight into contention for United’s trip to Birmingham City on Sunday. This will give a much-needed boost to manager Casey Stoney, who goes into the game missing key players through injury, including forwards Jess Sigsworth and Ivana Fuso.

Russo spoke to United’s website and said: “I’m honoured to be here. I come from a family of Manchester United supporters so it’s a dream to now say I am part of this great club.” Manager Stoney added: “Alessia is a real talent and I’m delighted she’s joining the club. She is a dynamic and powerful forward with so much pace, and we’re really looking forward to her coming into the squad.”

Russo is United’s sixth, and almost certainly final, signing of the summer following the arrivals of Lucy Staniforth, Ona Battle, Heath, Press and Fuso.

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