‘Every club is getting stronger and stronger, top to bottom’: Rose Lavelle on the WSL and playing against her childhood hero

From her quarantine hotel room, Rose Lavelle explains the pull to play in the WSL and how the league will challenge her, writes Jessy Parker-Humphreys.

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The Women’s Super League has been awash with international signings this transfer window, but the arrival of American World Cup winners Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle has particularly excited women’s football fans.

Manchester City have taken what they clearly see as a rare opportunity to bring players like these over to the UK. In a year without a global tournament, and a competitive league in the US unlikely to materialise, the freedom to sign these players is unprecedented.

Mewis and Lavelle have been two of City’s key signings in an attempt to not only win a first WSL title since 2016, but also to make inroads in the Champions League – a competition they never seem to have got to grips with.

Before Lavelle can help with that, though, she has to actually join up with the team.

“I have about a week left of quarantine,” she told The Offside Rule. “I’m in a little hotel.”

“I was able to watch the Community Shield game and it just made me really excited to get back on the field with them.”

Joining a new football club, and moving new countries, must be nerve-wracking at the best of times. But in the age of coronavirus, this process has been taken to a whole new level.

“It’s a little weird,” says Lavelle. “We’re in unprecedented times right now. I have workout equipment set up here and [Manchester City] have been delivering me meals.”

“I’ve had my friend Sam Mewis… Facetiming me and answering my questions so it’s been nice. Everyone has been really welcoming, even though I haven’t met everyone yet.”

Mewis signed slightly earlier in the summer so was able to make her debut for Manchester City in their Community Shield loss to Chelsea. Both her and Lavelle will be adding depth to what was already quite a settled midfield.

“The midfield in particular [at Manchester City] made me really excited. I think it’s a really deep midfield with a lot of experience, with Jill Scott, Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir.”

“I’ve had a chance to play against them on the international stage and they are always tough competition. I’m excited to be in an environment where I can play with them now.”

“The midfield is really deep so I think I’m going to have to work my way up to playing. I don’t think it’s a given at all.”

That kind of competition for starting spots is what attracted Lavelle to the Women’s Super League.

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“I knew I wanted to go overseas at some point,” she says.

“This is something that is going to push me out of my comfort zone, make me uncomfortable, but ultimately make me better because of it.”

“At [Manchester City] there are so many great players that I’m excited to be able to train with every day, and also to be able to learn from.”

“I think I am still a little rough around the edges, and I have a lot to learn, so I’m excited to be in an environment that is going to push me to do so.”

It’s not just Manchester City that Lavelle believes will offer that, but the Women’s Super League as a whole.

“Every club is getting a lot of great international talent so I feel like every club is getting stronger and stronger, top to bottom, every year.”

“Soon, I think it’s going to be one of those leagues where no matter who you play, it’s going to be up in the air who wins. Every game is going to be tough.”

Not to mention, Lavelle will get the opportunity to play against one of her inspirations.

“Growing up, when Kim Little was playing in the NWSL, playing for Reign, I loved watching her play. I thought she was such a creative player, and had this playmaking flair.”

It is testament to how far the WSL has come that Rose Lavelle and Kim Little will be able to face up to each other – but now in England. Both players will undoubtedly offer inspiration to young footballers growing up here.

You can listen to Rose Lavelle’s full interview with Lynsey Hooper in The Offside Rule: WSL Editions podcast.

The Offside Rule: WSL Edition returns for the new season with a team-by-team preview show, where you can hear the full interview with Rose Lavelle
Our dedicated women’s football podcast is out every Tuesday afternoon via Audioboom, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and several other podcast platforms. You can also go ad-free with a subscription to The Athletic, starting with a 30-day free trial.

Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph

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