Alessia Russo added another goal to her Arsenal tally at the weekend in the thrilling comeback victory away to Leicester City, which Arsenal ended up winning 6-2. This victory makes it 5 wins on the bounce for Arsenal in all competitions and puts them in second behind Chelsea and one point above Alessia’s former club Manchester United.
It’s been a slightly tricky start to life in North London for Russo so far, with her goal contribution tally not being of a standard that her performances actually deserve. The goal against Leicester was just her second of the season in Arsenal colours, whereas last season she was the 5th top scorer in the league but joint top scorer for Manchester United along with Leah Galton, both hitting the 10-goal mark.
Russo is more of the typical striker fashion, clinical finisher etc, but she has been found to have so much more to offer in recent times with her dropping back and creating openings for her teammates to fashion goals from. So far this season, Russo has been putting in consistent performances for her new club over the 7 games that she has played in, averaging a match rating of 7.18.
Last season for Manchester United this was ranked at 7.36, so she isn’t miles away from reaching those same standards, once she has settled into the Gunners’ system, she will once again find that top striker form which she has had at each club throughout her career.
At the young age of 24, Russo is beginning to reach the prime years of her career, last year Man United rejected a world record bid from Arsenal (> £400,000) but then ended up losing her on a free transfer anyway as she refused to sign a contract extension. Choosing to play her foreseeable future in north London, Alessia will be looking to knock the title holders Chelsea off of the top spot and achieve her dream of winning the Women’s Super League.
To say that Alessia is just 24 years old, some people wouldn’t believe, mainly because of just how much she has already completed so far in her adventurous and exciting career. She began her career, playing for the Kent Schools FA before joining the Charlton Athletic Centre of Excellence. She played here from 2007 – 2010 before moving on to the Chelsea development squad.
She made her first appearance for the club in the first round of the FA WSL Continental Cup in July 2016, this however turned out to be her last performance for the club too. In 2017, she headed down to Brighton. At this point, Brighton was a newly promoted WSL 2 side, and she wrote her name in their history books by scoring their first-ever goal at the WSL level in a 1-1 draw vs London Bees.
In the autumn of 2017, Russo made the decision to leave England and move to America for college football. Here, she spent three years where in 57 appearances she scored 28 goals. This is even with suffering a broken leg in her second year, but then returning to a career-high 24 appearances in her final year along with collecting many personal accolades before being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September 2020, Russo returned to England, signing for Manchester United. She made her debut 3 days after and scored her first goal in a 3-0 victory against Brighton the following week. She started her United career strongly, even being nominated for October Player of the Month. But then she was ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
The following season Alessia scored 11 goals in 30 appearances and ultimately ended up winning the Players’ Player of the Year award due to her perfect performances. In what became her final season, Russo improved in all aspects of her game, one of these being her key passing, as she scores way above average in the league and her technique makes it extremely hard for defenders to defend against. Not only this but in March 2023, she claimed her first career hat trick against Leicester City in a 5-1 win. She then left on a free transfer to Arsenal at the end of the season.
However, Russo has not just been effective in club games, she’s also been a pivotal point in England’s recent successes. After representing England in every age category possible from under 15’s upwards, Russo was called up to the senior England squad at the beginning of 2020. She made her debut as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Spain, before getting her first goals for England a year later, a hat trick in a record 20-0-win vs Latvia in a 2023 World Cup Qualifier match.
The 2022 Euros saw England triumph for the first time since the 1966 World Cup. Alessia featured in all 6 games as a substitute but scored 4 vitally important goals, with a backheel against Sweden even being nominated for the 2022 Puskas award. Her most recent England success came at the 2023 Women’s World Cup where not only did she score the winner in the quarter-final vs Colombia but sealed the semi-final victory too to make it 3-1 against hosts World Cup co-hosts Australia.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t replicate this form in the final as just as her England debut, they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Spain, but she will be hoping she can use this as confidence to take with her to Arsenal and pull these performances out for club and country in the future.