‘Fantastic character’: Manchester United sign Maria Thorisdottir from Chelsea

Manchester United Women have signed the Norway international Maria Thorisdottir from Chelsea on a two-and-a-half-year contract, strengthening Casey Stoney’s squad for the second half of the season and a potential title fight.

Stoney, whose side are second in the Women’s Super League, level on points with leaders Chelsea but having played a game more, said: “I’m so pleased to welcome Maria to the club; she’s a fantastic player and character who I think will fit in really well here.

“Her power and versatility as a defender is clear to see, and I know she will add some great competition to our defensive unit and really strengthen our options. We’re all looking forward to working with her over the next few seasons.”

Thorisdottir, who has 46 caps, joined Chelsea in 2017 and her deal at United includes an option for a further year. The 27-year-old said: “I’m proud to be joining Manchester United; growing up the club was always big in Norway, so for me to now be a part of the women’s side is really exciting.

“I’ve been impressed with the way the team have developed in a short space of time and have heard so many good things about Casey too, so I can’t wait to start working with her and the rest of the staff. I’m also really looking forward to getting to know my new teammates. This group is young and ambitious and to be part of that is great; the future is really bright for this team.”

The United defender Abbie McManus this week joined Tottenham on loan for the rest of the season.