Alessia Russo has said that having her long-expected transfer to Arsenal sorted before the World Cup has lifted a “weight off my shoulders”. After England’s final open training session on the Sunshine Coast before the squad travelled to Brisbane on Monday, Russo also said it was nice to have time with former Manchester United teammates before she moves to north London.
“I’m really, really glad it’s all done,” she said. “It feels like a little bit of a weight is off my shoulders. I wanted to try and get it all sorted before the tournament kicked off. Now I can fully focus on this World Cup.”
Although Russo has left the club she is a lifelong fan of, there has been no banter from her former colleagues Mary Earps, Katie Zelem and Ella Toone. “I’m still best mates with them all and I always will be,” she said. “It’s really nice to have this summer and some time with them again.”
Has she ‘found herself’ on this trip like her best friend, Toone? “No,” she says after a laugh. “I’ve been really enjoying myself. It’s far away from home so you’re just trying to find little things to do while you’re here. There’s a lovely coffee shop we’ve all been going to and the beach is amazing. We’ve just been trying to get out, explore, do things together and make the most of the time that we’re here.”
She and Toone balance each other out, she says. “We laugh because things she does that stress her out are completely calm things for me. One day she could be stressed about the most stupid thing and then the other day it’s switched.
“Our rooms are next door to each other, we knock on the way down for breakfast, so we spend a lot of time together. She’s like my sister. You never get sick of her.”
Russo and Toone were deadly together on the pitch last summer, coming off the bench to turn games for England on their way to a first European title. Russo played with a lot of freedom. At the World Cup she expects it to be more difficult to do that because she is better known.
“That’s the nature of the sport,” she said. “When a player plays more, and you understand them more, you can figure out ways to defend, but then that’s on me to try and go against it and watch clips and push myself. You’re not new but you’ve got to find ways and find solutions so you can flip it into a positive.”