Canadian star Adriana Leon needed a fresh start, and she’s got one.
The 30-year-old has joined English Women’s Super League side Aston Villa on a two-year deal from Manchester United just weeks after scoring at the Women’s World Cup for CanWNT.
Villa manager Carla Ward said the club have been following Leon over the last 18 months, citing her “great pedigree” in the WSL.
“She can play off both sides and will add another dimension to our evolving group,” said Ward. “We’re delighted she’s committed her future to us and we’re all looking forward to working with her.”
Leon joins fellow new attackers Kirsty Hanson and Ebony Salmon in Birmingham.
“It’s great to be here, exciting,” Leon told the Villa media team. “For me, it was important to feel comfortable and find a manager that I could easily work with and that would suit me… It’s an exciting project.
“I feel like the best is yet to come from me. I just need to be placed in the right environment with the right people.”
As alluded to by Ward, she certainly will bolster Villa’s attacking ranks significantly, adding to a group that already includes Hanson, Salmon, England’s Ballon d’Or nominee Rachel Daly, and Switzerland star Alisha Lehmann.
Leon can play anywhere across the front line as well as in a deeper wide role and brings varied experience to Villa. The Mississauga, Ontario native reached the FA Cup final during a three-and-a-half-year stint in the WSL with West Ham, which followed several years in the American NWSL.
An Olympic gold medalist with Canada, she has scored 29 goals in 99 caps for her country, the most recent of which was the winner in the 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland at this summer’s World Cup in Australia.
Frozen out harshly by Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner, she most recently spent time on loan back in the NWSL with the Portland Thorns, where she didn’t get too much playing time. At the World Cup, though, she still looked sharp despite her limited playing time at club level.
Overall, she has scored 10 goals in 48 WSL games in her career, mostly from the wing.
Now, she heads for a new challenge at Villa, who have had a very good transfer window and look primed to be a serious threat headed by the likes of Daly and Lehmann in the upcoming 2023-24 WSL season.
Whether Leon manages to establish herself as a starter in that stacked attack or she plays mainly as a substitute, it looks on paper like a great move for her and a good signing for Villa. Leon will contribute with goals, assists, versatility, and hard work whenever she’s on the field. It’s also never a bad thing to have an Olympic champion in your midst. Villa are building a strong squad with a winning mentality; Leon fits right in.
After winning six and losing just two of their final 10 games of last season, Villa kick off their new campaign on October 1.
Their opening-day opponents? Leon’s former club, United. It’s a funny old game.
Before then, she’s part of the CanWNT squad for the crucial two-legged 2024 Olympic qualifier against Jamaica later this month.