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It’s Ella Toone time for club and country

With departures at United and a new generation of Lionesses, Toone has a bigger role to embrace this summer. Starting with the 2023 World Cup...

England v Germany - UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

Ella Toone’s elation could not be contained as she chipped Merle Frohms and gave England the lead at Wembley on July 31, 2022.

A brilliant ball forward by Keira Walsh split Germany in two, and Toone took it calmly the rest of the way to put the Lionesses up 1-0 and send a record crowd into celebration.

England had battered their way through the competition on their way to the final, and though it was off the bench Ella Toone played a big part. She scored a vital late equalizer against Spain in the quarterfinals as well as the goal in the Final, and served as a Fran Kirby replacement off the bench.

In the World Cup preview episode of The Guardian Football Weekly, football author and journalist Suzy Wrack compared the current crop of young forwards for the United States to the breakout performances off the bench by Toone and best friend Alessia Russo. The “soon enough it will be their time” players.

Well, that time is now, as Toone is an understudy no more. She has big shoes to fill with Kirby out, but she is plenty capable of bringing her own spark to an England side that needs her to produce.

Toone’s No. 10 role at Manchester United will be a bit different from her role with England, though she will still be an asset in moving the ball forward. With Beth Mead and Kirby both out due to injury, the goal-scoring burden will fall a bit on Toone. The hope is that Rachel Daly and Alessia Russo can carry most of that, with the help of wide forwards Beth England and Lauren James, but Toone has to replicate the playmaking of Kirby for the Lionesses to function as they did last summer.

Sarina Wiegman may not be able to set her team up in the same way she did at the Euros, but there is no shortage of talent in this England side. The forward line is immensely talented even without Kirby and Mead, the midfield is arguably stronger given the performances of Georgia Stanway with Bayern Munich and Keira Walsh with Barcelona, and the defense has the depth to paper over the cracks left by Leah Williamson’s absence.

The difference in personnel from last summer will require tinkering by Wiegman, but Toone has already shown for England and United that she can operate at the heart of a well-oiled scoring machine.

Simply put, Ella Toone is one of the most creative midfielders in women’s football.

She’s one of the premier passers in terms of ball progression and shot-creating actions, comparing favorably against other attacking midfielders and wingers, and averaged 54.2 touches per 90 over the last year for club and country. In that time her goals dried up a bit, but her contributions didn’t wane. She produced 14 goal-creating actions in FA Women’s Super League play, providing 3 goals and 8 assists in 22 matches.

Ella Toone Scouting Report from FBRef stats
FBRef and

Toone’s campaign wasn’t without criticism, however. The three goals are her lowest-scoring production in a season since youth level, though that weight was largely carried by Russo and the wide forwards. As can be seen in the limited look at her numbers, she also struggled to contribute meaningfully in defense and ball carrying. Her carries and take on numbers were better in previous campaigns, but the drop off along with the departure of Jackie Groenen was worrying for the Reds in the middle of the park.

With Russo leaving for Arsenal she will need to pick up some of the responsibility, and much like her new role in the England side she will be a player the team and fans look to to make a difference. The role won’t just be as a creator, she needs to help stabilize the midfield with her game as well.

Toone is no stranger to performing under pressure. She’s shone brightly before for United and England, but this is a new stage for her in what has already been an impressive career. She has to step up for her teams, and it starts with the 2023 World Cup.

For England now, and United soon after, it’s Ella Toone time.