With Barça Femení players who will be out of contract in June 2024 now able to negotiate with other teams, Manchester United has approached striker Asisat Oshoala to try and persuade her to return to the English Women’s Super League this summer.
In the last transfer window, Barça Femení pulled a real coup with the red side of Manchester, bringing Masia product Ona Batlle back to Barcelona in a free transfer deal and sending – at the player’s request – striker Geyse to England for a club-record sale. Might more deals be on the horizon?
Blaugranagram understands that, since clubs have been able to negotiate with Asisat Oshoala, Manchester United was the first to reach out. Indeed, they may be the only club to have made a formal approach to her so far. We are also told that United want to strengthen their attack, and it’s not surprising: they currently sit fourth in the league table, which would exclude them completely from the Champions League next year. Though Manchester United have never played in the Champions League proper, they achieved their best result last season by getting into the qualifying rounds, and it would be considered a failure for them to do worse than that.
The loss of Alessia Russo to Arsenal before this season has reduced their goalscoring productivity, despite Rachel Williams stepping up to try and plug the gap. With other big name players not meeting expectations, and United’s unpopular manager facing overwhelming pressure to deliver (fans have been asked to stop chanting for him to be fired), it seems they are looking to try the same thing twice. It is unclear if bringing in another established goalscorer, and specifically from Barcelona, would be considered a mid-term solution to boost United while they prepare their younger strikers for a starting role, or if United would want her as a long-term luxury substitute.
We also understand that Barcelona already consider Oshoala to be filling this luxury substitute role. And while they are not prioritizing her renewal, they would not be opposed to retaining her for next season: substitute players of Asisat Oshoala’s caliber are hard to come by. However, aware of the club’s financial situation, they would most likely offer her a reduced salary in line with the limited role if she was to stay.
It is unclear how far along negotiations between Oshoala’s camp and Manchester United are, but there are currently no solid indications of if she will accept the English club’s offer. If they do offer her a starting position (with the appropriate salary), this may be more incentive to go – especially with Alexia and Barça’s young players preferred in the number 9 role so far this season.
Though Barça Femení isn’t particularly concerned about the future of its own attack (and with a +76 goal difference so far in a season that has seen Salma Paralluelo come into her own, why would they), Asisat Oshoala potentially joining United would leave Barça without an official starting striker, putting them back in the asking position. Do they try to find an affordable established striker who will also fit in the Barça style, or do they promote young in-house talent to starting roles while continuing to develop through La Masia? It also asks what will happen to Geyse if she is not getting the minutes she sought in her move to Manchester: it is only speculation, but could a return to Barcelona be on the cards for the Brazilian.
What we know for certain is that attacking talents who cemented themselves at Barça Femení have become desirable targets for clubs wanting to build their own dominance. Manchester United have made a flatteringly early approach to Asisat Oshoala, who has been with Barcelona since 2019 and an initial loan period: in over 100 appearances she has scored over 90 goals.