An already productive transfer window just got better for last season’s fifth-place team.
Over the weekend, Everton announced the signing of forward Anna Anvegård and defender Nathalie Björn from Rosengård.
Anvegård, 24, heads two Merseyside following the expiry of her contract on a two-year deal after two seasons with the Swedish champions. Sweden defender Nathalie Björn joins a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
A highly-rated player, Anvegård is seen as one of Europe’s brightest up-and-coming talents. The youngster is lethal in front of net, having won the Damallsvenskan Golden Boot in 2019 (14 goals) and 2020 (16).
She has been capped 19 times for the national team and helped Sweden to a third-place finish at the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France. She also netted five times during Sweden’s Euro 2022 qualifying tournament.
Anvegård, like her international teammate Björn, won’t join her new team-mates until after the Olympics.
“It feels really amazing,” Anvegård told evertonfc.com. “I’ve been talking with Everton for a few months, and it feels amazing that it’s done. I can’t wait to play in the best league in the world and to play for a massive club like Everton. It will be really amazing.”
Introducing our third signing of the summer...✍️ pic.twitter.com/XLEZf2bl3r— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) July 10, 2021
Not only is the 24-year-old a prolific goal-scorer, but she also has won the Damallsvenskan and participated in the Champions League with Rosengård. For a team with stated aspirations of breaking into Europe, Anvegård brings a wealth of experience at the highest level.
“[Manager Willie Kirk] spoke to me about the Champions League,” she said, “how it’s a big goal for the Club to get into the top three.”
When asked about bringing the Swede to Merseyside, Kirk laid out how he believes the young forward can contribute to the upcoming campaign.
“There was a lot of competition to get her signature and it’s a big statement in terms of where we’re going as a club and how we are viewed across Europe by other players,” Kirk said. “Anna’s got a lot of talent in front of her and she’s developed into a really important player for Sweden. She’ll become a really important player for us.”
Possibly the most valued trait one can possess when entering Kirk’s team is positional adaptability. In addition to tinkering with his lineups, Kirk can utilize versatile players to help offset the unpredictable and debilitating nature of injuries.
“She’s flexible in terms of where she can play on the pitch,” Kirk said. “She can play right across the front line; she can play as our leading nine, in behind as a 10, come off the wide areas and drive in-field into those spaces.”
For a forward who found the back of the net 45 times in 70 games across four seasons, Anvegård should give Everton a shot at pushing the top four teams in the WSL on offense. Even more impressive than her goal total is that less than 15-percent (6/45) came from the penalty spot. In other words, she does most of her damage from open play in front of net and does not rely on penalties to augment her statistics.
Adding Anvegård to a forward unit that already features Valérie Gauvin (5 goals) and Simone Magill (6) should give the Blues one of the league’s most formidable attacking trios.
Signing for the Toffees.— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) July 10, 2021
A sweet feeling. pic.twitter.com/CeWikhwG1Y
Despite being just 24 years old, Björn brings an incredible amount of experience to Walton Hall; she represented Sweden at the 2019 FIFA World Cup and will be competing with the national team later this month for gold at the Olympics in Tokyo. The young defender also was involved in Sweden’s run to secure a spot in next summer’s Euro tournament.
In an interview with evertonfc.com, Björn broke down why she chose to link up with Willie Kirk at Finch Farm and what about his vision for the squad resonated with her.
“I think he’s a good coach, and we have a really good understanding of each other,” she said. “That played an important part in why I wanted to come to Everton. Working with Willie can help me become one of the best football players in the world.”
Björn’s signing is reminiscent of when Kirk added Rikke Sevecke to his defensive corps last summer. Both came to Everton aged 24, both had been capped at least 20 times for their respective national teams, and both were seen as players who could develop into world-class defenders.
“Nathalie is another top signing for this Club,” Kirk said. “Nathalie is technically fantastic in terms of building from the back, and her pass appreciation is fantastic in terms of what she gives to her teammates.”
Our Swedish pair. pic.twitter.com/5KXOYdskwb— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) July 11, 2021
Not only will Björn extend the range of passing the Toffees can utilize at the back, but her positional versatility is also something that Kirk highly values in members of his squad.
“She’s flexible. She can play full-back and defensive midfield but, predominantly, I see her as a center-back,” Kirk said. “She gives us options to play three or four in defense. I believe she can go on to be one of the top defenders in Europe and hopefully we’ll play a big part in that.”
In four seasons at Rosengård, Björn featured 68 times — 64 of which were starts — en route to accumulating over 5,000 minutes played for the Malmö-based outfit. She also boasts several years of Champions League experience on her resume.
Reading between the lines of Kirk’s quotes, the Scottish manager seems to be looking at employing a 3-4-3 formation this upcoming season, a marked change from the frequent 4-4-2 the Blues utilized last season. A three back would see Björn play alongside Megan Finnigan and Sevecke, making the age of the backline 24, 23 and 25, respectively.