When Arsenal completed the signing of Kyra Cooney Cross from Hammarby IF in September, it felt like one of those moves was always destined to happen.
It had been advocated by none other than Ian Wright, the all time top scorer of the Arsenal Men's side. If that isn't a seal of approval, then I'm not quite sure what is.
Although it appeared to take a while for 'KCC' to get herself going in London, her latest appearance against West Ham, truly thrust her into the spotlight and showed us all, the quality we saw from the 2023 World Cup in her homeland, was still there and there in abundance.
Her short time in England so far, has shown everyone just how good she is and how she's seamlessly slotted into Arsenal's midfield.
How she gained Arsenal's attention:
With the World Cup in her homeland, Australia as well as New Zealand this summer, this was firmly the opportunity for certain players to put themselves 'in the shop window', to coin a footballing phrase, as they looked for the next steps in their career.
See for example, Hinata Miyazawa heading to the North of England and Manchester United after she won the golden boot at the tournament, or Dutch duo, Jill Roord and Daphne Van Domselaar, having stellar performances prior to joining clubs in the WSL.
Cooney-Cross had question marks about her future leading up to the tournament anyway. The 2023 Swedish Cup winner started the tournament pretty well, in the win over Republic of Ireland and the shock defeat to Nigeria. It was the third and final group game though, against Canada, where KCC came to the fore.
In the third game, the 4-0 drubbing of debutant's Canada, she was on fire, linking up defence and attack superbly, always threatening Canada on the attack, and outplaying their midfield pairing on the day superbly.
After she worked her magic in that game, she was a key player in Australia's run to eventually finishing fourth place, a certain Arsenal legend seemed to play a big role in getting her to the WSL.
Agent Ian Wright:
Within Women's Football, it is widely recognised that Ian Wright is the one pundit who goes above and beyond to champion the women's game, in his work in men's football, whilst also displaying fantastic knowledge on Arsenal and the Women's Game in general.
His holds special friendships with members of the Women's team, Leah Williamson and Katie McCabe. One name I didn't include there, was Steph Catley, who he seems to have recruited to his agent business!
After the prior mentioned Canada win, Wright went straight to social media platform, X to post his praise for the midfielder.
Since that tweeted, it was revealed how Ian Wright exchanged text messages with Cooney-Cross' international teammate, Steph Catley to see if bringing KCC to North London would be something the 21 year old would be interested in.
Making the move to Arsenal:
As with some of the most iconic transfers in football history, it has often gone down to the final day and the last minute, and this is exactly how this move went.
Signing on the dotted line on the final day of the Summer 2023 transfer window, Kyra Cooney Cross gave her first interview at the club to the official Arsenal Youtube Channel, which she breaks down exactly how the move came about.
How the fans feel:
As with a massive deal such as this, the Arsenal fans were rightfully joyous and excited at the impact the central midfielder could possibly have on her team.
"I think the impact Cooney-Cross has had is a youthful sense in midfield. Other than Leonhardsen-Maanum, the consistent players in midfield for Arsenal were older and experienced. That’s not a slight on their age but with the consistent minutes of Cooney-Cross, she’s showing a new way to play the game.
A youthful approach to creating chances and getting out of situations that would otherwise be more difficult or lost.
She obviously also brings an answer to who would fill the boots of Wälti if she was unavailable. That has been Arsenal’s undoing in the past, especially at the end of last season when they were also without Williamson.
Cooney-Cross takes that role and pushes into something that overwhelmingly benefits Arsenal and will for many years to come. She also completes the idea of the next generation of midfielders for Arsenal. They’ve been building players to one day take on the positions of Wälti and Little and Cooney-Cross completes that, and is pushing for the future."
Slotting seamlessly in:
The Australian has started three of the four matches she's played for The Gunners. with her performances in the last two, victories over Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham United really bringing her to the fore.
She bagged two assists in the 3-0 win over The Hammers, setting up Frida Maanum and assisting Beth Mead's first WSL goal in over a year, with her attacking importance highlighted here, especially in the second assist.
Picking up the ball in acres of space in the middle of the park, she took a couple of touches, looked up and pinged a delightfully delicate ball, clipping over the top of it so it sat perfectly for Beth Mead in the right channel, who bent her effort superly into the top left corner.
The Aussie's passing ability is something to behold too. She displays a 88% pass accuracy rate, with 2.3 key passes per game too. She isnt afraid to get involved in the tougher parts of the game too, averaging 6.3 ball recoveries per game and 1.8 tackles per game too, she really is the all action midfielder to drive Arsenal forward from the engine room.
The best is yet to come:
The most exciting thing for everyone associated with Arsenal Football Club, is that this is only the beginning, when it comes to watching Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Having partnered Victoria Pelova and Frida Maanum in the middle of the park so far, she has formed good understanding with the both of them so far. With fellow midfielder, Kim Little ten years her senior, she is in arguably the best environment to learn from, to hone her central midfield craft.
The shining Aussie has had a excellent start to life in North London, leaving fans and pundits alike purring at her stunning ability. If she keeps this form up, there's no reason why she can't become a permanent fixture in the Arsenal midfield, and spearhead Jonas Eidevall's side to great things in 2024.