Arsenal Women welcome signings Souza, Blackstenius and Wienroither

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall has dipped into the transfer market

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall has dipped into the transfer market - Credit: PA

Arsenal have made their third January signing, in the form of Brazilian centre-back Rafaelle Souza.

She joins Stina Blackstenius and Laura Wienroither in arriving in north London this month. 

The 30-year-old defender joins the Gunners following the expiry of her previous deal at Chinese club Changchun Zhuoyue.

Rafaelle has also played for Houston Dash in the USA, but Arsenal will be her first European club and she will also be Arsenal Women’s first Brazilian player.

She has made 33 appearances for the Brazil national team, scoring five goals. She was part of the Brazilian squads that won the 2018 edition of the Copa America and finished second at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

She fills the void left by Anna Patten, who has gone out on loan to Aston Villa, and the Brazilian international is set to nail down a first team place alongside Leah Williamson. 

Rafaelle told Arsenal.com: “I’m so excited. I feel great to be here and to be playing in such a strong and competitive league. I feel like when I decided to come here, I was looking for a club where I can show my football, and my skills and be in the centre of the world. That’s my challenge, to show my football to the world.”

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Manager Jonas Eidevall said: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome Rafaelle to the club. Her international experience, technical ability and leadership qualities make her an important signing for us. I’m looking forward to working with her and I’m sure the Arsenal fans are excited to see her in action.”

Head of women’s football Clare Wheatley said: “The signing of Rafaelle represents another significant addition to our squad, Rafaelle has proven international pedigree and we are sure that she will make a valuable contribution both this season and moving forward.”

Rafaelle will be available for selection for Arsenal once she has received the necessary international clearance.

Austrian international Laura Wienroither joins the Gunners from Frauen-Bundesliga side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, who played Arsenal in the Champions League group stages. 

The 23-year-old defender has 12 caps for her country and is an international teammate of Viki Schnaderbeck and Manuela Zinsberger.

The defender can play as a right-back or as a centre-back ,so brings a versatile nature to the north London club. 

The 23-year-old helped Hoffenheim record back-to-back third-place finishes in the German Bundesliga in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

She said: "It’s an incredible feeling for me. I’m really happy to be here and to have the opportunity and I’m looking forward to being with the team. When I first heard about Arsenal’s interest I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t believe it.”

Swedish international forward Stina Blackstenius, 25, joins as a free agent after leaving Swedish club BK Hacken.

Blackstenius has won two Swedish league titles and three Swedish Cups during stints with Hacken and Linkopings FC, and finishing the 2021 season as the top scorer in the domestic league.

Blackstenius was part of the Sweden squad that won silver at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and the 2016 Games in Rio.

She has also played for Linkopings and Montpellier and has 22 goals in 72 caps for Sweden.

“It feels amazing to be here. I’m so happy to join such a big and great club like Arsenal.” the striker told Arsenal.com. "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.”