Manchester United Women

Alessia Russo turns down Man Utd contract offer

Jamie Spencer
Alessia Russo has turned down Man Utd's offer of a new contract
Alessia Russo has turned down Man Utd's offer of a new contract / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Alessia Russo has rejected the offer of a new Manchester United contract, adding significant uncertainty to her long-term future at the club.

Russo’s current deal with United officially expires at the end of this month, although the club retains a 12-month option to trigger an extension until 2023 that will now be used.

Having recovered from the serious injury that prematurely ended her 2020/21 campaign, Russo enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22. She scored 11 goals in all competitions, was nominated for PFA Fans’ Player of the Year and earned herself a place in England’s Euro 2022 squad.

But BBC Sport has reported that the 23-year-old has turned down an offer to extend her contract with United. There are not believed to any ongoing talks with other clubs, but Russo will be a free agent next summer if no agreement is made before then.

United were cautious with Russo at the start of the campaign following her recovery from injury, which Marc Skinner admitted frustrated the player because she was so keen to be more involved.

Skinner spoke glowingly about Russo’s talent and ability all season, at one stage insisting “…you’ve not even seen half of [her potential] yet.”

Discussing her various attributes, the manager said, “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, and if she gets half a yard to shoot, she’s deadly. She can have it all.”

There is no suggestion that an imminent exit is on the cards for Russo. But, from the player’s perspective, delaying a decision on the long-term future for a few months will give her time to assess what level United are at in terms of being able to compete with the WSL’s established top three and finally break into the Champions League places after twice narrowly missing out.

Without adding to the squad this summer to provide vital depth, United will struggle to close that gap to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City when they have been so close to doing it.

Members of the current squad with the talent and ambition to play at the very highest level won’t fail to notice if the kind of quality signings in targeted positions that the club have been working on for months do not end up materialising as hoped and planned.

If Russo, whose own market value could change depending on how she performs at Euro 2022 with England this summer, concludes by the end of the summer transfer window or early next season that United are not in a position to match her ambitions, she could decide to pursue a new challenge next year. She stands to gain a fuller picture by waiting a little longer to decide her future.

BBC added United are working with a smaller budget than ‘at least’ five WSL clubs.

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