Should Manchester United sign Vilde Bøe Risa?

Mia Eriksson uses TransferLab to determine whether Vilde Bøe Risa would fit in at Manchester United

Vilde Bøe Risa is a defensive midfielder who has been a part of the Norwegian senior national team setup since 2016. However, the 25-year-old has been out of contract since December 16th, the day after she made her last appearance for the reigning Swedish Champions Göteborgs FC. 

Since then, the rumours about how her journey as a player will continue have been flying around in the media. But Risa hasn’t signed with a new club and is currently back home in Norway where she trains with Sandviken, one of the teams in the top domestic league. 

A player with both international and Champions League experience, Risa carries a lot of upsides in the transfer market. Using TransferLab, we are able to take a closer look at the kind of player she is and try to determine what she could offer for a possible new team. 

Looking at Risa’s metrics in the ‘Defensive Midfield – Deep Playmaker’ profile in TransferLab, her quality particularly lies in passing and distribution of the ball. 

As you can see, she is ranked in the 97th percentile for centre midfielders in Damallsvenskan as per the quality of her through balls and in the 94th percentiles for short passes, diagonals, and long passes

During her time in the Swedish top-flight, Risa made 37 appearances in the league where she scored 5 goals and made 7 assists. Focusing on the 2020 season in particular, she was ranked in the top two in her position in Damallsvenskan according to TransferLab’s Best XI tool:

For the upcoming international break, Risa was named in the Norway squad by head coach Martin Sjögren. Norway are set to play two friendly games against Germany and Belgium. 

Asked to describe Risa’s skill set in the run-up to these international fixtures, Sjögren replied,

“Vilde Bøe Risa is a very balanced player with a great vision for the game. Her best abilities are her skills in passing where she is wise and she can really read signals quickly in order to link the team together. During the World Cup in France 2019, I think she really showed what level she can play.”

Using TransferLab’s ‘Similar Player’ tool, we can find players with similar skill sets to Risa to start building a picture of her in her role on the pitch: 

Interestingly, the player most similar to Risa is Manchester United’s Katie Zelem. Back in February, Norwegian TV channel TV2 reported that Risa was close to signing with Manchester United in the Women’s Super League. However, so far nothing has been announced. 

Despite sitting top of the WSL table until recently, Manchester United now find themselves fighting to regain a top-three spot in order to secure a qualifying position for the Champions League next season. They usually play in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation and the role of the defensive midfielder in their side has been shared throughout the season by Jackie Groenen, Katie Zelem and Hayley Ladd. 

We can use TransferLab to compare the players in greater depth. Here’s how they stack up against each other:

As you can see, the Norwegian’s passing abilities set her apart from the three United players but this is offset by the fact that Risa’s quality in defending isn’t as strong in comparison to Groenen and Ladd in particular. 

If we compare the same players in the ‘Defensive Midfield – All Round’ profile, it becomes even clearer that Risa’s defensive ability sets her a little lower than the other three:

It should be noted: in Damallsvenskan, the defending is much more zonal than 1v1 which could be impacting Risa’s numbers here. However, with one of the more defensive options of Groenen or Ladd next to her, it could be possible for Risa to play in a double pivot in Manchester United’s 4-2-3-1.

This, though, would be pitching her against Katie Zelem, another 25-year-old whose output is fairly comparable to Risa’s own.

Comparing the two directly in the ‘Defensive Midfield – Deep Playmaker’ profile, you will see some differences:

Risa is probably a slightly better passer of the ball. Zelem carries the ball better. Risa is a better tackler. Zelem is a better 1v1 defender. In short, Zelem and Risa have very similar profiles and very similar age curves:

Risa (yellow) and Zelem (green) age curves

Despite the fact that Risa is out of contract, Manchester United might want to look for a younger option who can play as a backup for Zelem and develop her over the next few seasons before gradually replacing her.

Analytics FC provides software and data services to entities within football looking to realise the gains possible from analytical thinking. We provide cutting-edge software solutions such as TransferLab, which helps improve and simplify recruitment decisions. To find out more about TransferLab and our other data services, or to find out more about us, visit our website.

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