Manchester United recruited well in the January transfer window, planning for both the short and the long-term with the arrivals of Estelle Cascarino, Jayde Riviere and Lisa Naalsund.
Cascarino joined on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, having impressed United when she played against them in a pre-season friendly during the summer, and quickly came into the squad to make her debut off the bench against Sunderland in the FA Cup last weekend.
As a French speaker, her transition is being aided by Francophone teammates Aissatou Tounkara and Adriana Leon. Nikita Parris also spent two years playing in France.
“Estelle is fitting in really well and we’re just trying to teach her the ways we want her to play,” manager Marc Skinner said this week.
Riviere and Naalsund have signed longer permanent deals and neither are ready for action just yet.
Riviere, already an established Canada international despite being just 23, is on a contract until 2025, which matches the length of deal given to Maya Le Tissier in the summer. She is carrying an injury at the moment but is expected to be up to speed around mid-March.
Naalsund’s contract runs to 2026, with only Ella Toone currently on a deal that long. She is 27 and at a peak age to make a big difference over the next few years, having been described by Skinner as a ‘monster of transition’ to offer an idea as to the kind of role she will have.
Like Riviere, Naalsund isn’t ready to play just yet, albeit for different reasons. Her season in Norway ended way back in November and so she is essentially having to go through a pre-season programme to get her fitness back up to match levels. Again, March is the estimate for her debut, but her early progress has already been commended.
Despite, not being directly involved with the main training sessions at this moment in time, both Riviere and Naalsund are both integrating with the squad and have still been in close contact.
Both players have benefitted from familiar faces, with Riviere a long-time international teammate of the aforementioned Leon and Naalsund in a similar position with Vilde Boe Risa and Maria Thorisdottir. The latter has already been socialising with a number of the squad, beyond just her fellow Norwegians, away from the pitch.
“This group, led by Zel (Katie Zelem), they’re truly the most welcoming I’ve ever met. I don’t just say that. Even around the league, people talk about our team and how they close they are away from the field,” Skinner explained when asked about integrating the new recruits.
“Everyone is around each other and even that is a key integration tool because when you come into a club for the first time, you want to have someone that you can anchor to.”
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