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Speak of the Devil: A chat with Stumptown Footy about AC Milan’s Celeste Boureille

Get to know more about Milan’s latest signing.

Kansas City v Portland Thorns FC Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The international break is over, and the AC Milan Women will soon resume league play. The team will take on Sassuolo on Saturday and kickoff for the match will be at 14:30 CET. The fixture will also be the FIGC’s Match of The Week and it will be streamed globally on La7.

Recently, the AC Milan Offside spoke to Grant Little about the Rossonere’s newest signing, Celeste Boureille. Grant is the site manager of SB Nation’s Stumptown Footy and covers the Portland Thorns, who are Boureille’s former team. He also covers Real Madrid Femenino for Managing Madrid and co-hosts the Las Blancas Podcast.

Here’s what they had to say about the player and the potential impact that she’ll have on her new team.

How well did Celeste fair at the Portland Thorns and how would you describe their playing style?

GL: Celeste Boureille has been a role player at Portland Thorns FC. She has been with the team since 2016 when Boureille joined as an undrafted free agent. Boureille made 66 regular-season appearances for the Thorns across six seasons and helped the team to the NWSL Shield in 2016 and 2021, the NWSL Championship in 2017, the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, and the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup.

Boureille has rarely been an out-and-out starter which is no surprise when you look at the international quality that has been present in the Thorns midfield. Boureille was a player that routinely stepped up when there were injuries, rotations, and/or international tournaments.

Boureille’s best position is the No. 8 but she is also very versatile. She has played all over the midfield and the backline at Portland and in various loan spells in Australia and France. The midfielder thrives in a box-to-box role. She is best in the No. 8 because it allows her to link up and join in the attack but also makes use of her ability to win the ball back. I think her best quality as a soccer player is her ball-winning ability in midfield.

Boureille had a solid 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup and played well during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the Thorns when players like Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn, and Christine Sinclair were off with their respective national teams. Unfortunately, Boureille picked up an injury and wasn’t able to feature much after the Olympics.

In Italy, football is both tactical and technical whereas, in the United States and England, the style of play tends to be more physical and athletic. Do you think Boureille will be able to adjust to the tactical nature of Italian football?

GL: Like I mentioned earlier, Boureille is versatile and I think that applies to her tactical and technical ability as well. She has found success in the NWSL with the Thorns, the A-League Women with Canberra United and Brisbane Roar, and in the Division I Féminine with FC Fleury 91. Ultimately, Boureille’s ability to adapt and succeed in the French league makes me believe that she will be able to do the same in Italy.

Boureille is the second, former Portland Thorns player to play for Milan. The first was Verónica Boquete (who has since left the team for Fiorentina). Do you think more NWSL and more specifically, more American players like Celeste will consider Serie A Femminile an attractive league to play in?

GL: I believe that we have seen a paradigm switch in U.S. women’s soccer concerning players taking their talents to Europe. The ability to follow teams through online media as well as increased access to matches has made these leagues more accessible to players in the U.S.

I also think that the quality of the European game continues to improve and offers players a new challenge and new style which can help players grow. The European game also allows players to participate in the UEFA Women’s Champions League which can be a huge draw for players in the U.S.

All of this leads me to believe more American players will consider playing in Serie A Femminile and other European leagues as the women’s game continues to grow.

Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty

It’s been a tumultuous time for the NWSL, as there was a lot of upheaval due to the recent abuse scandals in the league. The Thorns were caught in the middle of this with the allegations of abuse against Paul Riley and the team’s front office reportedly covering this up before his dismissal. My hometown of San Diego is entering the league this year and I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about this due to everything that’s happened. Do you think that all this turmoil will be a turning point for the league and that we’ll see fewer incidents like this in the future?

GL: I hope the turmoil will be a turning point. The likes of Meg Linehan of The Athletic and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post have done a great job breaking these horrible stories that players have been very brave to share. I pray that systemic change is coming but I still believe there are a lot of bad actors that need to be removed from power. I am hopeful though and I believe that player power and fan power continues to increase which will help make women’s soccer a much safer place.

Last year, the first-ever International Women’s Challenge Cup was held in Portland. You were fortunate enough to talk to Alexia Putellas and other members of the FC Barcelona team. You also spoke to the Olympique Lyonnais players while they were there for the tournament. What was it like talking to them and what teams would you like to see at this year’s WICC?

GL: The Women’s International Champions Cup was an incredible experience. It was surreal to speak with Alexia Putellas. She has a very commanding presence and was gracious with her time. Interviewing Amandine Henry after she scored in her return to Providence Park was a dream come true. In the future, I hope to see the top teams from around the world meet in the WICC. I think the Champions League winners should always be there along with other European powerhouses. I also think it is imperative that the WICC invite the likes of Tigres or Monterrey from Mexico and/or champions from South America. The WICC should attempt to make a Club World Cup. The women’s game needs it and FIFA continues to drop the ball in that regard.

Author’s note: The Portland Thorns have also confirmed that the WICC will be held at Providence Park this year. The participants have yet to be named, but here’s to hoping that Milan can play in the tournament someday.

We also thank Grant Little for taking the time to talk to us. Please give them a follow, if you’re so inclined.