Manchester United are keen to retain the services of both Ona Batlle and Jackie Groenen amid concerns that either or both could leave the club in the near future.
Batlle has a contract that expires at the end of this season, but for which the club still holds an option to extend it for another year until 2023.
The Spanish full-back has been linked in recent weeks with Barcelona, having previously time in the club’s youth ranks and herself hailing from Catalonia.
United’s option, which manager Marc Skinner has previously confirmed the club plans to use, ensures there remains a degree of control over her future for the time being. A longer-term contract beyond the end of next season would still be the ideal solution, though.
“Ona is a great player. She is influential in what she does, she’s a big part of the squad and the team now,” said United assistant coach Martin Ho when pressed about Batlle’s future.
“We’ll continue to work as we do with Ona. She’s very well thought of within the playing group, she’s very well thought of by staff, and Ona continues to deliver for us every single week and is massive part of what we’re doing. We’ll keep working with her.”
Groenen’s future at United has also been the subject of recent uncertainty. The Netherlands international, who agreed a switch to Manchester prior to starring at the 2019 World Cup, has recently returned to regular action after staff were keen to manage her fitness.
“Jackie is part of the football club and under contract at this football club. She’s a big part of the plans we’ve got here moving forward. She’s influential and you can see that within the games she plays,” Ho explained.
“We work hard behind the scenes now at this time of the season, as every club does, to make sure that you keep the players you want to keep. We’ll continue to do that and work hard as a group of staff, to make sure that we continue to develop the squad.”
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A number of United players are due to be out of contract this summer. As with Batlle, the club has options to extend deals for Alessia Russo, Millie Turner and Ivana Ferreira Fuso until 2023. But there are no options in the expiring deals of Diane Caldwell, Lucy Staniforth or Martha Harris.
“We’re working hard to renew the people that we feel will be part of it,” Skinner said of the various ongoing contract negotiations earlier this month.