Manchester United manager Marc Skinner has spoken out about star striker Alessia Russo for the first time since the deadline day dilemma which saw Arsenal try to steal the United star away to London.
The Gunners had two record-breaking bids rejected by United, who were adamant that Russo was not for sale.
Russo’s contract runs out in the summer and could end up leaving the Reds on a free transfer however, after speaking to Russo, Skinner gave a glimmer of hope to United fans.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Skinner said, “I spoke to Alessia this morning and we’ve had a really good meeting.”
He continued, “I can’t stress enough, Alessia is the nicest person, the best kid, great attitude, exactly someone we are looking to keep here, keep in negotiations and conversations around that.”
It will be interesting to see if Arsenal’s bid has affected both Russo’s and the team’s mindset but Skinner insinuated that Russo was in a good head space.
“We’ve shared a real good moment this morning and she was really positive and trained really well.”
He continued to say that both the club and the player have the same ambitions saying, “She wants to win here, so I just reiterated that me and her have always had this relationship where it’s business on the field and we’ll look after each other, and we’ll work towards her being a better player and this club being a better team.”
He added, “I’m going to try everything in our power (to keep Russo). There are always factors in that. There are things we need to work out, but actually, I think she has a real love for this club. We have a real love for her.”
United have finished fourth in the last three seasons and are searching for Champions League football this time.
They currently sit top of the league, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference and three points ahead of Arsenal.
If United are serious about being title contenders there was no way they could sell their best player to their rivals.
“As Manchester United, we don’t want to be a selling club. We want to be a team that builds to try to push for titles. We’re a club that has fierce ambitions.”
It was clear he understood the gravitas of the situation, “I think it’s huge (Russo not leaving in the January transfer window) in order for us to continue what we’ve started (this season).”
“I think it shows a lot about our club. We’re building, we’re helping these players progress. We are one of, if not the biggest, clubs in the whole world. For us, it’s just about keeping that momentum.”
“We have a lot of work to do… but it’s a huge statement, for us to say to her as well, ‘we value you and we want to build around you going forward’.”
Russo is not the only player who will be out of a contract soon at United and when pressed about the futures of Mary Earps and Ona Batlle, Skinner replied, “We will try to retain those players. Hopefully that comes towards fruition towards the end of the season.”
United face Everton at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday and it is to be hoped that these last few days won’t have rattled Russo or anyone else’s cage.
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