Ona Batlle agrees to join Barcelona

Ona Batlle was previously a youth team player at Barcelona
Ona Batlle was previously a youth team player at Barcelona / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Ona Batlle has agreed to join Barcelona when her Manchester United contract expires this summer, 90min understands.

The Spaniard has become a fan favourite at United since joining the club in 2020 and has established herself as one of the best full-backs in the world during that time.

Batlle was initially due to be out of contract at the end of last season, with the club choosing to trigger a 12-month extension. Talks over a new long-term deal had been ongoing for some time, but no agreement was reached, paving the way for a return home.

The 23-year-old made her name as a player during spells with Madrid CFF and Levante, but she hails from the Catalan town of Vilassar del Mar and joined Barcelona’s famed La Masia as a 12-year-old, eventually rising to Barcelona B, before starting her senior career elsewhere in 2017.

Batlle has had a stunning season for United at both ends of the pitch. The way she completely shut down Lauren Hemp during last weekend’s victorious Manchester derby encapsulates her defensive supremacy, while her nine WSL assists indicate her enormous attacking importance – no other defender even comes close to that number, while only Chelsea winger Guro Reiten (10) has more.

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Batlle will join a Barcelona squad that already has Lucy Bronze. But the England right-back will be 32 in the autumn and only has one more year left on her contract. Batlle also has the versatility to operate as a left-back, which Barcelona have lacked since last summer’s Leila Ouahabi exit. Sweden winger Fridolina Rolfo has spent much of the current season in that role instead.

As far as Manchester United are concerned, manager Marc Skinner insisted after the Manchester derby that the future success of the team won’t be dependent on individual players.

Discussing both Batlle and Alessia Russo, who is also due to be out of contract next month but could yet stay, he commented: "If they're here [next season] we'll be great and if they're not here, we'll [still] be great. That's the defiance of me and this club – one player won't make a Manchester United team. That's got to be clear if we want to win things."

United will hope that January signing Jayde Riviere is a readymade replacement at right-back. The Canadian international was recovering from long-term injury when she arrived but made her debut off the bench in the recent win over Tottenham and Skinner has made big claims about her ability.

"We're taking this time to embed her, but she is a dangerous player to play against," he said. "Our fans will have a world class player there – she will work every day to make sure she is that."