Manchester United fans are still eagerly awaiting the debut of record signing, Lisa Nalsund, who joined the club from SK Brann during the January transfer window.
United paid Naalsund a sizeable fee and handed the Norway international a long-term contract until 2026 – only Ella Toone has a long-term deal between the current squad.
Even with that level of investment, the fact that she didn’t debut right away wasn’t a surprise. Naalsund’s 2022 season ended in Norway in early November, which meant that by the time she joined United in late January she hadn’t played for the better part of three months.
The 27-year-old had to do a pre-season to raise her physique to match the levels. The goal has always been March, initially late March, and has been gradually advancing. She was then declared fit and ready to play ahead of the Women’s Football League match with Leicester at the beginning of the month.
Nalsund did not take to the field that day, although United did score line in the second half at home against the bottom side of the league – manager Mark Skinner used all his other substitutions to score minutes in others’ legs.
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The overseas trip to Chelsea has always been a difficult task. But with United struggling to find ways to break the Blues’ deliberately compact low mass, it would have been worth the gamble, especially because Skinner has previously praised her “mentality, driving runs from box-to-box and will to win”.
The United manager has a certain way of playing and usually refrains from throwing new players into the deep end, preferring instead that everyone perfect his system first. That was only ramped up to him joining a team that was already doing well in the middle of the season.
Ahead of facing Lewis in the FA Cup, Skinner said Kalsund and fellow January player Estelle Cascarino “are getting close in terms of understanding our way of playing”. Canadian fullback Jade Rivière will likely go through the same process when she becomes fully fit soon.
On loan from Paris Saint-Germain, Caccareno arrived in a more ready-to-play position, making her debut in the FA Cup against Sunderland. With United facing another Second Division side in Lewes in the quarter-finals on Sunday, a clear opportunity to use Naalsund for the first time appears.
Skinner described both players as “the future Manchester United”, stating that the long-term intention is to turn Cascarino’s loan into a permanent transfer.
Naalsund initially expressed concern On the difficulty of breaking into the successful United team before her signing – she saw fellow international fieldboy Raisa having to make do with sporadic appearances, It risks its place in the 2023 World Cup in Norway in the process. As it happens, Boe Risa is now starting to get more opportunities and take advantage of them.
Naalsund has so far impressed in training and adds a different kind of quality to the squad in terms of going from box to box. The earlier you start playing the better, especially before a very close round where every inch counts. United will need every advantage they can get.