Arsenal have completed the signing of Sweden international forward Stina Blackstenius and it comes at a crucial time for the Gunners ahead of the second half of the WSL and Champions League season.
Blackstenius is a World Cup bronze medallist and two-time Olympic silver medallist, while she has proven herself at club level in recent seasons with Linkopings, Montpellier and Hacken.
The 25-year-old played with the latter in the Champions League group stage earlier this season and now has the chance to play a higher profile club in the knockout stages of the competition.
Manchester United were initially expected to secure Blackstenius’ signature once her contract with Hacken expired at the end of December. Tottenham and even Chelsea were believed to be keeping tabs on the situation, but United missed out once Arsenal’s interest became serious.
“We’re delighted to have signed Stina,” manager Jonas Eidevall said when the deal was announced.
“She is a world class talent who will add even more quality to our team. Her game is well-suited to the style we are implementing here at Arsenal, and I’m confident that she will take her game to an even higher level here with us.”
Given that the Gunners, who still have a chance to compete for four trophies in 2022, began to struggle and falter in November and December, the boost has come at a great time.
Arsenal made a blistering start to the campaign, catching Chelsea cold on the opening weekend and going on to win eight of their opening nine league games. But as of now, Eidevall’s team have lost four of their last five games in all competitions since and first started to show signs of weakness in a north London derby two months ago in which they only narrowly escaped defeat.
The impact of a truncated pre-season following the Olympics appears to be being felt – Vivianne Miedema has been left out of the team for rest on several occasions, with Leah Williamson’s injury absence at the back has also seen some stability lost.
Blackstenius’ arrival will provide not only fresh quality and depth up front, where summer signing Nikita Parris is also yet to hit her former best since returning to English football from France, but boost the morale throughout the squad ahead of a crucial few months ahead.