National Womens Soccer League

Mariona Caldentey signs for Arsenal after leaving Barcelona

Mariona Caldentey signs for Arsenal after leaving Barcelona

Mariona Caldentey signs for Arsenal after leaving Barcelona

Mariona Caldentey has entered a new chapter in her career, signing for Arsenal after spending 10 seasons with Barcelona. Caldentey wants new goals and thinks the Women’s Super League is the perfect spot to find the competitiveness she’s missed in Spain, due to the lack of professionalism in that league.

“It is difficult to explain the feelings, but you watch other leagues and they make you want to play there,” Mariona reflected that Liga F has the ‘professional’ name, but it’s important that it can actually be professional.

Having won everything with Barcelona, she is now seeking new challenges. A new country, another language, a new league and club, new teammates and coach — ambition is what moves her rather than money. If Mariona had left Barcelona for a higher salary, she would have gone to the NWSL, where no offers were missing. Or even to other clubs from England, like Manchester City and Chelsea, or even France, as Maria Tikas said.

Could Mariona be the new Miedema for Arsenal?

Mariona has found the perfect match in North London. Vivianne Miedema’s departure has allowed Mariona to occupy the now vacant position in the attacking line. It has to be mentioned that they are not the same type of player, though.

Miedema shines by herself through scoring goals and dribbling. Meanwhile, Mariona does the more invisible work by creating spaces and moving defenders out of their place to let the team create opportunities. She is a fundamental piece of a team, but she is not the player everybody recognises.

“I personally, and the entire team, will miss her,” Aitana Bonmatí said of her former teammate. “She’s been in Barcelona for many years, she understands football like a few others. The superiorities she generates, which help the midfielders… I will miss her.”

We will have to wait and see if Mariona can adapt to Arsenal’s way of playing, as it is quite different to that of Barcelona.

“Here, I could play even with my eyes closed, and I think we play the best football we can play. My goal is to adapt myself or infect my game to another team,” she said during her farewell press conference.

Hopefully, Mariona will have a warm welcome to Arsenal from Laia Codina. The two played together at Barça for several years, as well as for the Spain national team.

Lucy Bronze once said about her teammate: “Mariona makes better players that are around her.” And this sentence stirs Caldentey, who admitted it was ‘the best thing they could say to her’. She will certainly hope she also has this influence at Arsenal, the same way she did at Barcelona.

Brilliant forward in numbers

As a ‘culer’, Mariona won three Champions League titles, six Spanish top flight trophies, six ‘Queen’s Cups’, four Supercups, and six Catalonian Cups. The Balearic player has won everything at her second home — amassing 25 titles overall in Barcelona colours.

Caldentey, who played 302 matches in Barça’s jersey, is the fifth highest goalscorer in the team’s history. With 114 goals, she is just behind Asisat Oshoala (117), Sonia Bermúdez (123), Jenni Hermoso (181) and Alexia Putellas (190).

She scored 73 in the national competition — where this season she broke her own record, scoring 19 goals — 16 in Europe, 13 in the Queen’s Cup, three in the Supercup, and nine in the Catalonian Cup.

Mariona helped Barça qualify for their first Champions League final — the beginning of a new era. However, they lost on that occasion. As a result, they asked the club to train harder to transform those players into an actual professional team. This season, Mariona could perform at her highest level, and she was one of the best players in the Champions League final.

She is leaving the club how she wanted — on top of Europe and having done an admirable job. Barcelona will miss her smile and the way she understood Barça’s identity while playing.

Knowing the Women’s Super League is a competitive one following the investments after England’s Euro 2022 triumph, Mariona will likely not be the only world class player moving to join a British club.

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