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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Lucia Garcia’s departure a worrying start to the summer

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Manchester United Women have a big summer ahead of them, and it’s off to a worrying start.

The BBC’s Emma Sanders reported on Thursday that Spanish forward Lucia Garcia is set to leave for Mexican champions Monterrey. Her contract expires this summer after spending two years with United, scoring 11 goals in 42 league appearances for the Reds. Half of her appearances were as a substitute as she never nailed down a starting role despite strong performances under Marc Skinner.

Sanders also reported that United are interested in signing Golden Boot runner-up Elisabeth Terland, but it’s likely that the rest of the best in England are also keen on signing the out-of-contract 22-year-old winger.

Skinner signed a one-year contract extension with the option for an additional year after United won the Women’s FA Cup. It’s the first major trophy for the women’s team in club history, but it was also a shiny way to gloss over the worst league season in club history. United finished in fifth, 15 points behind the UEFA Champions League qualification spots.

There has been discontent from the fanbase about the manager with a “Skinner Out” chant and social media campaign underway since early in the season. The failure to retain key players brings new worries for this summer as Garcia may only be the first to go. Top scorer Nikita Parris has already been linked with an NWSL move while Leah Galton and Katie Zelem also have decisions to make. England No. 1 Mary Earps has a contract decision to make as well, though there is some hope that may be resolved.

The team spent heavily last summer, more than any other FA Women’s Super League side. The focus seems to be on building a younger team. Young players such as Hinata Miyazawa and Emma Watson suffered injuries that hindered their ability to show their worth, and another young player with high upside, Grace Clinton, earned Player of the Season nominations for her performances at Tottenham. Along with investments in Maya Le Tissier, Jayde Riviere, and Gabby George, the team is getting younger while replacing former starters.

It’s a smart approach, but the manager has to give them a chance eventually and set the side up in a way that doesn’t continue to drop points against the best teams in the league as they did this season.

A 6-0 embarrassment against Chelsea on the final day at Old Trafford left many upset about the decision to extend Skinner despite the poor league campaign, and that discontent may only continue if United can’t retain talent or make their hits in the transfer market count.

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