Arsenal Ladies Head Coach Pedro Martinez Losa says bringing back Kim Little from the NWSL was always going to be an objective of the club, even after she left. The Scotland international, who departed North London after five successful years to join the Seattle Reign, made headlines last week following her return to the FA Women’s Super League club after three inspiring seasons in the Pacific North West.
Gunners coach Losa, who has seen his team miss out on Champions League football for a fourth season in a row, said ‘legends’ like Kim Little, are always players you want to bring back when you can. “Top players and legends of this club, for example Kelly Smith, come back home, and they come back to a club where they have been promoted, but also where they have been successful.
“It’s been a long journey. We know the journey Kim has had in America, and the impact she has had has been unbelievable. Seattle has been the best team in America over the last few years and Kim has played a big role in that team. She was not just number one priority for us, but was probably number one for a lot of clubs around the world.”
Losa, like a lot of coaches, not only looks at the ability of a player when looking to boost his squad, but also their character. He praised the all-round qualities that Little would be able to bring Arsenal, while stating that although the former Hibernian midfielder was thousands of miles away in the U.S, her relationship with the club never evaporated.
“Kim’s links with the club have always been there, and she fills the values and wants to do the right things for this club,” he said. “When she was off-season, she was always asking if she could come and train with the team, so we were happy to have her here and help to keep her fit. She never lost her links here, so we just had to convince her that this was the right environment for her and that the club is in a good place and moving in the right direction.”
Arsenal, who dominated the English game for years in the 90s and 00s have fallen from their perch at the top of the tree and have not finished in the top two of the FA WSL since 2012. Crucially, this has seen them fail to qualify for the Women’s Champions League for the last few seasons, with their last outing a quarterfinal loss to domestic rivals Birmingham City Ladies in 2014.
With Liverpool Ladies, Chelsea Ladies, and this year Manchester City Women, all winning the league since Arsenal’s last triumph, Losa is now in a position where his team needs to be competing for a top two place, regardless of an impressive FA Cup win this season and a Continental Cup win last year.
Despite suggesting that Arsenal brought back Little in response to clubs such as City, Chelsea and Liverpool overtaking them in recent seasons, the Gunners Head Coach stated it was not a kneejerk reaction, with a deal being something the club had wanted for a considerable amount of time.
“No, this was something we looked at from last season,” he said. “This club has a fantastic history, but also wants to move forward for the future, so how do we move forward with the future? It has to be with Arsenal values and the way we want to play and operate.
“I think we have players in the system like Jordan Nobbs, Dan Carter and Leah Williamson who are ready for the next challenge in terms of leadership, but I think the big one can be Kim in terms of being successful and quality on the pitch. Its not just about signing good players, it’s about getting the right person, and we felt Kim was the right one.”
Little will go into a squad overwhelmed with talent, but she will not face competition from three of the squad who have played a part this season. This comes as a result of the news last week that the Spanish trio Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Marta Corredera, and former Western New York Flash midfielder Vicky Losada, would all be leaving the club.
The Equalizer understands that the trio will not be the only players to leave, with Arsenal looking to make more changes ahead of the 2017 season.
Little will join Arsenal in January ahead of the one-off spring series that will see clubs play each other once in a short competition, before the European Championships begin in July. She leaves the Reign as the franchise’s top scorer with 33 goals, 17 assists and two NWSL Shields.
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