Competition Focus

Is Ona Batlle the key for FC Barcelona’s title defence?

Ona Batlle: Her rise to the top

Born in Vilassar de Mar, it didn’t take long for the young prospect to catch the eye of Catalan giants after spending a few years in her hometown.

In just two sessions, Batlle secured a spot at La Masia, providing her with the perfect environment to hone her craft.

However, when opportunities with the first team were scarce, she sought chances elsewhere, embarking on a year-long move to Madrid CFF, followed by a two-year stint with Levante.

Then came 2020, and with that a chance to step outside of her comfort zone with a move to a new country and a new league entirely.

Manchester United, entering their second year in the Women’s Super League, welcomed this unknown talent as then-manager Casey Stoney sought to strengthen her back line. This move proved transformative, culminating in Batlle earning the Player of the Year award by the end of the 20/21 campaig

Her game continued to evolve in the WSL, and a managerial shift at United, with Marc Skinner taking the helm, marked a period of significant growth for the 24-year-old.

Over the next two years, Batlle incorporated ball-carrying into her skill set, becoming integral to United’s style of play and progression up the pitch.

“Marc and Martin (Ho, former United Women first-team coach) said to me: ‘Ona, you are really good. You have the speed. You can carry the ball as much as possible,’” she revealed in an interview with The Athletic.

That tactical tweak would allow her to become a hub for the Reds to play through, and in her final season in M16, she registered 10 WSL goal involvements – nine assists to be precise – from the right-back position, ranking her among the top creators in the league.

Despite her success at United, the allure of playing for the Barcelona first team always resonated with Ona. Consequently, she returned to the Catalan club once her contract with United concluded.

Surrounded by some of the world’s best, including Ballon d’Or winners Aitana Bonmati and Alexia Putellas, there is no doubt that she will soon be recognized as one of the planet’s premier players—although, for many avid spectators, that recognition has already been well earned.

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