With the footballing world currently taking a break amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, Manchester City announced on Saturday that 18-year-old forward Jess Park had signed her first professional contract that would keep her at the City Football Academy until 2023.
Park, who initially joined the blues from York City back in October 2017, is one of the brightest young talents at Manchester City, and has impressed in the games that she has been given this season. She has netted five since she joined, with three of those coming against Ipswich Town in the FA Cup, where the blues won 10-0.
If there's one strong point in City's game, it's their attack. However, the introduction of Park into the team changes the dynamic and introduces a footballer with a different style of play to the rest.
Coupled with a low centre of gravity, her pace gives her a role that is similar to what can be seen when Fran Kirby plays for Chelsea; a quick, skilful player who is difficult for defences to cope against. This style of player perfectly complements the other elements that work so well for Alan Mahon's side going forward - the counter-attacking wing play of Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway, and the precision in front of goal that is provided by Ellen White in the middle.
A look at the match against Ipswich highlights exactly this. For City's first, she received the ball in the air, brought it down to the ground, beat one of the opposition players in her own half, before having the vision to slot through an on-running Laura Coombs to create a perfect goalscoring opportunity.
Where she could fit in
With Pauline Bremer set to join VfL Wolfsburg when the 2020/21 season commences, and Tessa Wullaert also looking to possibly be on the way out, next season may provide the perfect opportunity for Park to get some more minutes playing for the first team.
There is no clear indication as to how the 2019/20 campaign will be concluded with much confusion due to the coronavirus causing an indefinite suspension to the league, however even though Manchester City sit top of the division, Chelsea's game in hand will most likely allow them to lift the league title at the end of the season.
Park could provide a new lease of life going forward to a City side that has looked to have been caught out by some of the better sides this year, such as in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid. She gives another option to slot into the midfield usually dominated by Caroline Weir, Keira Walsh and Jill Scott, and is the perfect backup option for when one of these are unable to play.
After the 10-0 victory over Ipswich, City boss Alan Mahon praised her for her performance that saw her take the match ball:
“For the likes of Jess Park to step up and play like that and be as composed as she was, I was really proud.
“Jess is a top player. This is the start of her career and she’s doing exceptionally well."
Her performances this year may warrant more game time next, and if she breaks through into being a regular first-team player then it may just be the difference that City need to beat Chelsea and Arsenal to the title