Seeing his top goalscorer walk out the door is nothing new for Fran Alonso. The Celtic manager yesterday talked about Clarissa Larisey’s transfer to Swedish side Hacken this week and reflected on losing previous top scorers Sarah Ewens and Charlie Wellings.
Larisey was next in line to leave and undoubtedly the best of the three. Indeed it was her quality and her development at Celtic that has actually hastened her departure as she gears up for the World Cup this summer with Canada by playing in a competitive, fully professional league in Sweden, rather than the SWPL where there are only a few fully professional sides.
“We are experienced in that. In our first year Sarah Ewens, our top goalscorer left, last season it was Charlie Wellings and now Clarissa but the team is still performing very well,” Alonso said as he proceeded to talk thorough the transfer of his top scorer and perhaps the best player in Scottish football.
“I think that this year we are playing our best football so although it’s less than ideal to lose a player who has had such a good impact in the middle of the season, but I think that in this case it’s a win-win situation for her and for both clubs and also for (Canada) her national team.
“I know that any player who plays in this position – at the weekend it was Amy Gallacher and she scored a hat-trick – any player playing in this position with the way the team plays and the way the final pass is produced, any player is going to score the same amount of goals as Clarissa scored.
“So we wish her all the best, we obviously want her to make a massive impact at her new club and also at the World Cup and now it’s an opportunity for us to bring in a striker to make the same impact.
“When we signed Charlie Wellings she had scored four goals in the season before we brought her and Clarissa was exactly the same. Her record was four goals when we signed her. So I give a lot of credit they both became scoring machines while they were with us and that is exactly the same with what we are expecting.
On new signings: “We are expecting a player maybe arriving tomorrow, hopefully, if not early next week. Hopefully with our training environment and the amazing teammates that she will have, she’s going to make the same impact or better hopefully that Clarissa made. So it’s a win-win situation and I’m very excited to welcome not only one but two players.”
Asked by The Celtic Star if the development of Clarissa Larisey, who had not been capped at any level for Canada but broke into the national team (one of the top women’s teams in World football) as a result of the coaching at Celtic was something to be proud of for the coaching staff and could assist Celtic in attracting the best emerging talent from around the world.
“Yes, 100%. That makes us proud<” Fran said. “For me it was a proud moment when Clarissa had her debut for Canada. It was another achievement for all of us here, a credit to the high performance environment we have here at Celtic Football Club.
“So for me that is fantastic and as I’ve said, we are all supporting Clarrisa, we want her to smash it at her new club and we will be watching her at the World Cup and we hope that she does fantastic.
“But we bring in players, we develop them, Clarissa the season before we signed her scored only four goals, so was a player who needed this confidence and this development. The same happened the year before with Charlie Wellings, she scored four goals, came to us and scored 40 goals in one season.
“We believe that any player who comes in after Clarissa – and I agree that she was fantastic for us – is going to have the same type of numbers. That’s a credit to the rest of the Ghirls, the way that they play, the way they interrupt, the quality they’ve got, the way they press and it’s a credit to the set-up that Celtic Football Club have got in here.
“Don’t get me wrong. We are going to miss Clarissa, there’s no doubt about this, as a person and as a player. Clarissa was an important player for us, no doubt about that but don’t forget that we are bringing in two players to replace her and the quality of the players coming in will increase the quality of the squad overall. So are we going to miss Clarissa, yes we will but the team will not suffer. You saw last weekend without her, someone playing in her position (Amy Gallacher) and she scored a hat-trick.”
We wanted to know if the fee Celtic received for Charlie Wellings in the summer and Clarissa Larisey this week will be re-invested into the team as Celtic still operate with a much smaller budget that theRangers.
“There is no secret that our budget is way lower than theRangers budget but that money will be re-invested in the team and it’s considerably higher than the fee we got previously (for Charlie Wellings).
In terms of doing more to promote the Scottish game so that Celtic can develop and retain top players Larisey, Fran said: “Celtic should do it, every team in Scotland should do it.
“There’s a lot of passion for the women’s game in Scotland but not as much as there is in other countries so I think we should all do ore to promote the women’s game. With a badge that clubs like Celtic have got we should not be losing players – with all due respect – to clubs like Hacken, but financially they are miles apart so with a little bit more work, maybe in a few years time, hopefully we won’t see that happening in the Scottish league.
“It’s a general thing in the league, ours is a much weaker league financially. In Sweden every club is professional, here we’ve got clubs who are amateurs or part-time so it will take time to get stadiums full then we will start to grow. But where we are now compared to when I first came is like two worlds apart. But I think we can all do a little more.
And a final word on transfer activity over the next few days, after Fran had told The Celtic Star last week that two, possibly three signings coming in and one, possibly two going out.
“We were expecting to announce one of the new players today but some of the paperwork did not arrive on time so that is the only reason why I can’t share it with you,” Fran told us. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to share the name, it’s a very good player for us. And another one hopefully next week, everything has been agreed and it’s just about completing the paperwork.
“In terms of players going out, the player I knew who was going was Clarissa and now everyone knows. Then possibly there’s another player who might go but might not, at the moment it’s a fifty fifty but I can tell you that it is NOT Jacynta, because I hear the rumours, it is not her.”
Watch Fran Alonso’s media conference below. Celtic play Glasgow City on Sunday then Motherwell in midweek and will be looking for six points to maintain the club’s title challenge.