Sporting director Eniola Aluko leaves Aston Villa Women and heads west

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Sporting director Eniola Aluko poised to leave Aston Villa Women - Mike Egerton /PA
Sporting director Eniola Aluko poised to leave Aston Villa Women - Mike Egerton /PA

Aston Villa have confirmed the departure of sporting director Eniola Aluko, who the club say will "take up a new position in US women’s soccer".

The former England striker's exit was first revealed by The Telegraph on Thursday and she is now reportedly set for a senior role at the new, Los Angeles-based NWSL franchise Angel City FC.

The 34-year-old, who won 102 England caps, had been at Villa since January 2020 and helped oversee their transition to full-time, professional status following their promotion last season. The ex-Chelsea and Juventus forward said:

“I am very grateful to Aston Villa Women for giving me the opportunity to begin my transition from playing into a sporting director role. It has been such a valuable experience."

Her exit follows this week’s departures from the West Midlands club of their three most senior coaches. Interim manager Marcus Bignot, head coach Gemma Davies and assistant coach Jenny Sugarman all parted company with Villa on Monday.

Bignot, a long-term ally of Aluko who played under him when he was Birmingham City’s manager early in her career, had been in charge at Villa on a temporary basis since January. Davies and Sugarman, who led the club to promotion from the Championship in 2020, remained in their roles after his arrival.

This summer, Villa now look set to require a major rebuild off the field, seeking a new first-team boss and assistant manager, as well as a football director or equivalent.

Sporting director Eniola Aluko poised to leave Aston Villa Women - Michael Regan /Getty Images 
Sporting director Eniola Aluko poised to leave Aston Villa Women - Michael Regan /Getty Images

Former Chelsea and Juventus forward Aluko, who scored 33 times in 102 senior international caps for England, became Villa Women’s first sporting director in January 2020, half a season before they won promotion. She played a central role in their summer recruitment drive for new players as they stepped up to be a full-time professional side in the WSL.

Rumours are circulating among WSL players and coaches that Aluko may be set to join outgoing Manchester United manager Casey Stoney at a club in the United States, but sources have not been able to confirm this. Stoney resigned from United on Wednesday and is attracting interest from Portland Thorns and NWSL expansion side San Diego.

Stoney stepped down amid frustration at some of the training facilities available to her players at United, who finished fourth in the WSL and missed out on European qualification by a single point.

Villa finished 10th in the 12-team league, three points clear of relegated bottom side Bristol City.

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