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Arsenal sign Sweden international striker Stina Blackstenius from BK Hacken

Republic of Ireland v Sweden – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – UEFA Qualifier – Group A – Tallaght Stadium
(Image credit: Brian Lawless)

Arsenal have announced the signing of Sweden striker Stina Blackstenius.

The 25-year-old joins the Gunners after leaving BK Hacken following the expiry of her contract with the Gothenburg-based outfit.

Blackstenius, who scored 17 goals in 21 league games during the 2021 season, has helped Sweden claim silver medals at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics and finish third at the 2019 World Cup.

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She said in quotes on Arsenal’s official website: “It feels amazing to be here, I’m so happy to join such a big and great club like Arsenal.

“I got a really good first impression about this club, they play really good football and I wanted to be a part of that. I feel like I can become a better player in this environment.”

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall, Blackstenius’ compatriot, told a press conference on Friday: “I think a standout for Stina is her ability to score goals in really big games.

“She’s an excellent player running in behind when she is exposed to a lot of space. If we look for example at the games we played against Barcelona this autumn (4-1 and 4-0 defeats), I think we really missed that quality in the squad, to punish teams that are playing with such a high defending line. So she will be helping us with that.”

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Eidevall was asked if there was a way the Women’s Super League’s all-time leading scorer Vivianne Miedema, whose current Arsenal deal runs out this summer, and Blackstenius could play together, and he said: “I hope there is – that’s definitely one of the scenarios I’m seeing.”

He then added: “For me, the arrival of Stina has nothing to do about the future for Viv. To sign Stina and make her an addition to the squad, I think it’s the right way to go, in any of the scenarios – with her staying, which we hope she will, or if she’s not staying. Then we will need to find a replacement for her and for that type of player.”

Eidevall said he was not in a position to comment on Arsenal being linked with Brazil defender Rafaelle or any other potential incomings, but did say: “We’re not done yet in this window.”

The Gunners boss was speaking ahead of WSL leaders Arsenal hosting Reading on Sunday – a match that could see England defender Leah Williamson and United States winger Tobin Heath back involved after injuries that have sidelined them since November.

Leah Williamson could make a return from injury in Sunday's home clash with Reading (Adam Davy/PA).

Leah Williamson could make a return from injury in Sunday’s home clash with Reading (Adam Davy/PA)

Williamson and Heath have both been training, and Eidevall said: “I think Tobin is a little bit ahead of Leah, just through the nature of the injuries, but there is a possibility that both can be in the squad, and that both can play.”

Arsenal have four players who have been called up for squads in the Asian Cup that takes place in India from January 20 to February 6 – Australia trio Lydia Williams, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord and Japan’s Mana Iwabuchi.

Eidevall says he struggles to understand why, given that tournament, the domestic winter break was not extended.

He said: “I think it’s odd that you go into a period where you have international tournaments, where you have to release players, but you’re still playing in the league. Our team is the most impacted, but also a lot of other teams are releasing players.

Four players in Jonas Eidevall's Arsenal squad have been called up for 2022 Asian Cup duty (John Walton/PA).

Four players in Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal squad have been called up for 2022 Asian Cup duty (John Walton/PA)

“For me, I think it’s pretty odd that you don’t structure the league in a way that you try to limit the number of games you play during an international tournament.

“Then you would turn around and say ‘what about the men’s (game)…with the Africa Cup of Nations?’ Of course it’s different if you are going to fit 38 games in a league, compared to 22.

“I have a really hard time understanding the logic behind that decision. Why didn’t you take a longer break in January, play the Asia Cup, and then you play until the end of May instead? It doesn’t make sense to finish the season at the beginning of May, since the Euros is not until July.”

Eidevall also said he thought it would be “very interesting” to see which teams will be “forced” to play rescheduled postponed matches while the Asian Cup goes on.

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