Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bronze are happy to end speculation on the club’s future ahead of Euros

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Lucy Bronze is delighted that her club future has been settled with England ahead of the start of this summer’s European Championships, having opted for a move to Barcelona rather than a return to Lyon.

In May it was announced that the right-back was leaving Manchester City at the end of her contract and a move to Barca on a two-year deal was finalized last weekend.

Barca were Champions League winners in 2021 and runners-up last season, losing in the final to Lyon, who played for bronze from 2017-2020.

Asked if it would be nice to go into the Euros with a clear head after the transfer, the 30-year-old, who has held 89 caps for England, said: “Definitely.

“It was pretty much done the week after the season ended, I just needed to find the time to sort everything out. It was hard to keep my mouth shut because it was obviously so exciting.

“The only thing I said to Barca and my agent was I want to get it done before the tournament, get it done, get it out of the way. I want to be able to focus on England, I don’t want questions about which club you’re going to next and all the talk and gossip around it. I just wanted to focus on playing well for England.

“At the end of the season that gave me a lot of self-confidence. I had offers from Lyon and Barca, the two best teams in the world. It wasn’t bad to be able to choose from them and make my decision.

“It gives me a lot of confidence as a player, knowing that these big teams that are so successful, want me to sign, want me to play and know I can make a difference for their team.”

Bronze won the Champions League three times during her time at Lyon, which was sandwiched between two spells with City.

“I knew I wanted to play abroad again,” said Bronze, who won the 2020 FIFA Female Player of the Year award.

“I honestly think my experience at Lyon was the best time of my career, the best moments of my career.

“To go out and push myself into another culture, have a different experience, play with the best players in the world – to have the chance to do it again was a breeze.”

Euro hosts England, who meet the Netherlands in the second of three warm-up games at Elland Road on Friday, meet Austria in the tournament’s opening game at Old Trafford on 6 July.

Their second group game then takes place at the Amex Stadium against a Norwegian team, with Ada Hegerberg back in their squad.

Bronze played with Hegerberg in Lyon and said of the 2018 Ballon d’Or-winning forward: “Ada is just a winner, the girl is crazy in that regard. I can remember previous games where she would come up to me and say, ‘You just put the ball in the box and I score’.

“She’s just obsessed with scoring goals, she’s obsessed with trying to win the ball. There aren’t many nines who can score goals and then come back and make tackles and put their bodies on the line.

“She’s so tall and she’s got pace and strength, fitness. I think what sets her apart for me is her crazy mentality that she has herself, it’s something you can’t really influence. You can’t really get into her head – I could try!”

Hegerberg, who returned to action last October after 20 months out through injury, returned to the Norway squad in March for the first time in five years – she had decided to step down from the team in 2017 as she was unhappy with the way women’s football was going was operated in the country.

She scored one goal and set up another as Lyon beat Barca 3-1 in the Champions League final in May.

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