Manchester United still have a one-year extension option they are yet to trigger in full-back Ona Batlle’s expiring contract amid renewed talk of interest from Spanish giants Barcelona.
Batlle arrived at United in the summer of 2020 upon leaving Levante and quickly became a fan favourite for her surging runs forward and bright character.
She has had a fine season so far in 2021/22, but it has brought with it intrigue from other clubs. Barça are not the only side credited with interest, Chelsea have also been linked in the past.
The 22-year-old, who is a native of Catalonia and spent six years at Barcelona in her younger days, has a contract with United until the end of the season, still the same deal she signed upon swapping Spain’s east coast for England’s north west. But it contains an option for a further year that currently remains unused, giving the club a degree of control over the situation.
“There will be some players that are taken up on their option years, with a view to the next phase – it puts that placeholder in place, that you can recruit [from elsewhere] and also retain,” United manager Marc Skinner has confirmed. “That’s the whole reason we do it.”
It suggests that despite not yet triggering the clause, it remains the club’s intention to do so. For Batlle, a regular starter and important player, it makes the most sense.
The player told Sky Sports last month that leaving Spain was something she had always wanted to do, also citing a desire to improve her English.
“Now I’m enjoying living in Manchester a little bit more, with Covid it was hard to live here – we were in lockdown for so much of the first year I was here,” she also said.
“Sometimes I do miss the sun a little bit, when it shines here, I am so happy. But I’m enjoying exploring all the different places, I’m a really active person.”
Batlle’s personal ambition is to play in the Champions League. United are fighting to get there for next season but are locked in an insanely close battle with Manchester City, having narrowly missed out last season after being leapfrogged by Arsenal late on.
She previously refused to directly address her future in a February interview with Forbes.