The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is nearly upon us.
Many nations have announced their squads ahead of the tournament, with some provisional ahead of squad cuts, but the teams appear to be mostly set about a month out from the opening matches. With that in mind, here are the Manchester United players set to feature for their national teams this summer, and what sort of role they’ll be playing.
The current holder of the historic No. 7 shirt at Manchester United, and scorer of the opening goal in England’s dramatic 2-1 win over Germany in the UEFA Euro 2022 Final. She was an important player off the bench in the Lionesses' campaign for their first major trophy, but she’s expected to play a bigger role for England this time around.
Toone has taken a larger role in the team since the Euros last summer, sporting the No. 10 shirt and spearheading the midfield in big wins over Italy, Japan, and Brazil in the Finalissima. The run of games in between tournaments also saw England’s unbeaten run under Sarina Wiegman come to an end, however, and the transition to Toone over Fran Kirby in midfield will be important for keeping the pressure on their opponents.
As an attacking midfielder, Toone will be expected to link up with England’s talented forward line, including her best friend Russo. They were in sync last summer coming off the bench, but now they’re the first-choice players in their position. Without Beth Mead in the squad as well there will be greater pressure on them for creativity.
The 2022/23 FA Women’s Super League Golden Glove winner and FIFA Best Women’s Goalkeeper in 2022 for a reason.
England were somewhat looking for a goalkeeper to step up ahead of the Euros campaign, and Earps obliged. She kept 4 clean sheets on their way to winning the trophy and made several key saves in the rare moments when England looked threatened.
Earps kept up the good form with a stellar season with Manchester United, ending the league campaign with 14 clean sheets
Zelem, United’s midfield playmaker, will be making her first-ever major tournament appearance for England at the World Cup this summer. While she is unlikely to start for the Lionesses, it is nonetheless a big achievement for her and a nice way to reward her level of play over the last couple of seasons.
Zelem can be accurately described as the engine of United’s midfield, dictating play and operating at the base of possession alongside a more defensive-minded player. While she’s not at the level of the more elite midfielders, her ability to ping passes from midfield, free kicks, corners, and even score from those situations as well, makes her a useful player who could come in and contribute if needed.
Vilde Bøe Risa
A creative attacking midfielder who seldom gets opportunities for the Red Devils, Vilde Bøe Risa is an important player for Norway. At 27 she has 60 caps for her country and plays in a pretty talented squad. They’ll certainly be hoping to make a better showing at the World Cup than they did last summer in the Euros, and you can expect United’s number 8 to be a part of that.
While Bøe Risa isn’t too much of a goal scorer, she is certainly a chance creator. She likes to operate going forward, is fairly skilled with the ball at her feet and is a decent set piece taker as well. Expect the target of her and her teammates’ creative efforts to be former Ballon D’or winner Ada Hegerberg, a marksman for Lyon who has finally gotten over a spell of poor injury luck.
Jayde Riviere and Adriana Leon
Both players are included in the provisional squad, but have been locked on for Canada’s squad over the past year and are expected to be in the final tournament squad.
Leon in particular has been an important player for Canada, scoring 28 goals in 96 caps for the Canucks. In fact, despite the strong depth at forward in United’s squad, there was still some surprise that Leon didn’t feature much at all. Leon played in just 5 FA WSL matches, 9 in all competitions with only 3 goals to her name as a Red Devil.
Riviere similarly did not feature much, though she is expected to play a more prominent role with the departure of Ona Batlle. At age 22 she already has 37 caps for Canada, and will likely add to it this summer. Hopefully, a showcase of her skills will calm the nerves of United fans who are anxious about Batlle leaving (it’s me, I’m United fans).
Aissatou Tounkara and Estelle Cascarino
Another pair of players who didn’t feature much for United last season. In fact, each player featured just once in the league campaign. Cascarino arrived only in January on loan, but Tounkara was expected to compete for appearances. She’s played 39 times for France, and of the two seems the more likely candidate to make the cut when it comes time to trim the squad.
Recent departures: Alessia Russo and Ona Batlle
They’re confirmed departures this summer, but it would be tough to do this without mentioning the two most important players at United from the past two seasons.
One of the stars of England’s run to Euro glory last summer, Russo is set to take on a bigger role this time around after the retirement of England’s all-time leading goalscorer, Ellen White. She is coming into the tournament off the back of another successful campaign with the Reds, scoring 13 goals in 24 appearances across all competitions as United finished runners-up in both the FA Women’s Super League and FA Cup.
Batlle, like Russo, is a United player no longer, but was arguably United’s most important player from last season and will be playing a similar role for a Spain squad in turmoil.
La Roja was shaken up after the Euros last year when Las 15, a group including Batlle, voiced grievances with the Spanish federation over the management of the national team by Jorge Vilda. After a short period of estrangement and ostracization by the federation, some of the players, Batlle included, have returned to the fold ahead of the World Cup, but tensions remain high. Several stars, including Barcelona’s Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina, are not included over the issue.