“It has always been my biggest goal, to win something for England,” said Bronze, who left the European champions, Lyon. “A big reason for wanting to move back to England was to be closer to the team and help influence the team more. What greater opportunity than the next three or four years with all the competitions, a home Euros especially.”
Bronze won the Champions League in each of her three seasons with Lyon and said she was determined to “bring that success back to England, back to City”. She has an insight into sustained European success English teams can only dream of. “I know what it takes to be at the top, what the players do every single day, how they play, how they think. So it’s exciting for me to have all of that information and be able to bring those experiences back and try and change things at Manchester City and push them on.”
Bronze matured at Lyon into one of the game’s most coveted right-backs and the influence of a world-class squad was hugely important. “I picked up on everything they were doing every single day and just loved being around them. I was like a sponge, just absorbing everything that was going on. I really grew as a person and found myself while I was playing there.”
Alex Greenwood, who also left Lyon for City this week, enjoyed a similar experience during her one season in France. “It was probably the best year of my football career in terms of on the pitch and off the pitch, the way I developed as a person as well as a player,” the former Manchester United left-back said.
“I went there with what I thought was experience and maturity and I have left there with a great deal more. I don’t think you can walk into that dressing room and walk out not having improved when you play with them and train with those players every day.”
One of Bronze’s biggest takeaways was about finding a balance to the intensity. “The French culture in general is just really laid-back, which probably surprises people considering how much Lyon have won, but they know when to switch it on and when to relax,” she said. “In England, in general, it’s 100%, full on, all the time, which can be draining. I definitely want to bring that kind of balance.”
It will be easy for Bronze to slot back in at the club she departed three years ago and easy for Greenwood to gel with 10 international teammates in City’s squad. However, Greenwood’s background at United means she will not always have the quietest of receptions. “I’m not stupid … I understand why people are frustrated and disappointed,” said Greenwood, who has also played for Everton and Liverpool.
“I expect friendly banter, no more. I completely understand the situation. I grew up as a football fan. I grew up in the game. Does it motivate me? Probably a little bit when it comes to the [Manchester derby], I’ll probably have that little extra buzz on that game, but I’m motivated to win every game.”
On Thursday the highly rated 21-year-old forward Alessia Russo became United’s sixth summer signing. Russo has her first professional contract after three years at the University of North Carolina.