Arsenal are expected to secure the signing of Swedish forward Stina Blackstenius in the coming days, and beat WSL rival Manchester United to the star’s signature.
Blackstenius has established a reputation as one of Europe’s leading strikers in recent years and has been the most talked about player in the January transfer window.
United, who first showed interest during the summer, were initially considered close to a deal. But the Red Devils, who have struggled to recruit since the end of last season, seemed to lose their lead in the race when Arsenal registered a serious interest.
Blackstenius’ contract with the Swedish club BK Hacken, for which she played in the Champions League group stage earlier this season, expired at the end of December. Although a move to WSL was the more likely option, a new agreement with Hacken had not been officially ruled out until now.
The club confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Blackstenius has decided not to renew his contract and will “continue his career abroad”. The player had also previously expressed her interest in testing herself in England, where she believes the style is a good match for her qualities.
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In addition to interest from United, the 25-year-old had also been tracked by Tottenham and even Chelsea. But the Swedish newspaper Goteborgs-Posten (GP) expects Arsenal to reach an agreement – the Gunners were also recently branded as new “favorites” by BBC Sport, and went about United.
Blackstenius himself confirmed to GP on Thursday that her future will be known “within the next few days”. She also confirmed what Hacken said about leaving Swedish football.
For Arsenal, the arrival of a proven goal scorer at the elite level is a timely boost. After a great start to the season, the Gunners have been out of action since November and have sunk into an alarming row with four losses during their last five games in all competitions.
They will need a boost in the short term if they are to fight for silver on several fronts this season, with a quadruple – WSL, Champions League, FA Cup and Continental Cup – still available to them, as they face stiff competition in the battle for each trophy.
Long-term, recent reports suggest they may need a replacement for superstar striker Vivianne Miedema. The Dutch national team player is without a contract at the end of the season, but even though she has not ruled out signing a new contract, she has also been very open about wanting to play for a club that can match her ambition to win the Champions League. Barcelona and PSG are linked.
As for United, manager Marc Skinner met the media on Thursday and disappointed supporters with an acknowledgment that the club is currently not close to getting any business across the border.
“We have no one right now but we have worked hard. It’s about getting the right people to fight this group. From the next few days, no. We are always hopeful that we can potentially do some work for the right people come to, says Skinner.
The United boss had previously spoken optimistically about being “active” in the January market, potentially with a view to entering the US market. One such name is Houston Dash and England player Rachel Daly, who is believed to have trained with United during the winter.
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