Fans think Ella Toone has revealed Alessia Russo's Man United future
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Fans believe England’s Ella Toone has unintentionally lifted the lid on whether teammate Alessia Russo will be signing a new deal with Manchester United at the end of the season.
Ella Toone, 23 and Alessia Russo, 24 are currently heavily involved in Manchester United's most successful Women’s Super League season yet. In previous years, United women have failed to finish higher than fourth place in the WSL. However, at the time of writing, they’re currently sitting in first place — one point ahead of reigning champs Chelsea with six games to play. Despite their fine form, Russo’s future at the club is in doubt. Her contract expires this July and Arsenal women have attempted to pursue the striker twice. In January, it was revealed that United had rejected two consecutive bids to sign the Kent native — one of which was a world-record transfer fee of £500,000.
Ahead of the international friendly between England and Australia tomorrow, Toone took questions from the press alongside Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman. At St George’s Park, she was asked by the media what she thinks about Russo nearing the end of her contract. In the same breath, she was also asked whether she hoped the pair would remain teammates throughout the 2023/24 WSL season.
“We’re joined at the hip… We’re best friends. We love playing together and being around each other, and we love each other’s company,” Toone answered. “That will never change, no matter where Alessia [Russo] is. As a friend, I will always be proud of what she does and goes on to achieve.” Toone dismissed all further comments regarding club football by stating, “Right now, we’re at England camp and spending every day together. We’re playing football together and that’s the main thing. For now, it’s just enjoying now together and whatever happens, happens.”
However, some fans have already read into Toone’s non-committal statement. They believe that although Toone didn’t explicitly say that Russo would cease playing her football at Leigh Sports Village, she didn’t offer too much hope of a contract renewal. The likes of Arsenal, Emma Hayes’ Chelsea and Olympic Lyonnais Féminin have all previously been interested, and fans are speculating about the move.
“Well now everyone in the world knows Alessia Russo will be leaving,” writes one fan via Twitter. “Alessia Russo Arsenal summer signing,” said another. A third commenter chimed in, “When you decode her speech and connect the dots, you’d know Russo leaving is inevitable.”
But not everyone seems to be upset about the prospect of Russo departing United. Regarding Toone’s statement one Twitter user wrote, “Unpopular opinion but Russo isn’t as big a loss for United as people seem to think…. I would prefer her in [the] WSL to keep our star power though.”
Russo and Toone both started in the first-ever Women’s Finalissima last Thursday. The latter opened the scoreline in the 23rd minute. However, Russo was subbed off in the 74th for Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly. They won 4-2 on penalties. The England Lionesses will now face The Matildas at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium on Tuesday 11 April. Kick-off is at 19:45 and you can watch the match live via ITV.