After the departure of club captain to Alex Greenwood to Lyon, Manchester United‘s Barmy Army have been quite vocal in their disappointment at the sudden and unexpected departure. Casey Stoney will hope to have softened the blow with the signing of Lotta Ökvist from the Swedish side Hammarby.
Going back to seven years to 2012, a 15-year-old Ökvist was playing in her native Sweden with Piteå IF. After a brief spell with Umeå IK she returned to Piteå where she played twenty-five times, scoring the one goal.
In October 2017 Ökvist crossed the Atlantic and signed for Matt Beard‘s Boston Breakers in America’s National Women’s Soccer League. Despite being an ever present during the many incarnations of the United States women’s soccer leagues, prior to the beginning of the season, the Breakers folded.
Ökvist was later picked up Orlando Pride but never pulled on the shirt in a competitive game as she decided to return to Europe and Hammarby where she was a key first teamer. While in Orlando she trained with the likes of Martha and Alex Morgan, she told that Sport Bladet‘s Petra Thorén “They were nice and nice, but it was tough workouts. But I got some tips and just being in such a professional environment gave me the added flavor that I really wanted to be able to invest full time.”
Ökvist told the club’s website, “I’m excited to be joining Manchester United, it’s a special club and I can’t wait for the opportunity to develop as a player here. I’m confident in my ability and I hope to contribute a lot to the team during this first season in one of the most competitive leagues.”
There were rumours circulating that the newly formered Real Madrid were looking at bringing her into their squad and link her up with her compatriot, Kosovare Asllani, but Ökvist chose United and the Women’s Super League stating, “One of the main reasons for me choosing to come to United was to get to work under Casey Stoney; I think she is a fantastic coach and also a person who cares about her players. I really can’t wait to get started.”
Ökvist has yet to make her debut for the Swedish’s national team but has represented the youth sides through under 17, under 19, and under 23. In 2015, she helped Sweden win the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship. This side included star from this summer’s Women’s World Cup, Stina Blackstenius, who finished top scorer with six goals in five games.
With a move to full time professional club like United, she will be hoping that she can break into the national team, just in time for the European Championships which are being held in England in 2021.
22-year-old Ökvist has been a key player for Hammarby with an impressive 18 assists and also chipped in with a couple of goals. If she can provide that sort of service to the likes of Jess Sigsworth and Jane Ross then United will score plenty of goals this season.
I’m not sure whether we’ll see Ökvist starting when United take on City in their opening game of the WSL on September 7th. She has a few weeks to get acquainted with her new teammates so who knows? Maybe she will hit the ground running, make a dream debut and be part of the side to take three points of Nick Cushing‘s side. We’ll be there either way and can’t wait!