The latest part of our series looking back on our Women’s team’s campaign shines a spotlight on our three summer recruits from Spain.

With several established names moving on to pastures new, Gareth Taylor turned to the continent to freshen up the City squad in the summer of 2022.

In doing so, he welcomed in three recruits from the Spanish Primera Division, two from Atletico Madrid and one from reigning European champions Barcelona.

In this segment of our Season in Review, we shine a spotlight on Deyna Castellanos, Leila Ouahabi and Laia Aleixandri to analyse their debut seasons in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

Take a look below to read about the impact the trio have had this season…



Despite still only being 24 years old, Castellanos already has a decade of international football under her belt after representing her country from the age of 14.

She moved to City after two-and-a-half years at Atletico Madrid, boasting an impressive CV and an eye for a spectacular strike.

Equally adept in the midfield or as a forward, Taylor tended to use Castellanos’ energy, tenacity and trickery in the engine room, where she provided the perfect foil for Yui Hasegawa, Laura Coombs and Filippa Angeldahl.

The stand-out moment for the Venezuelan has to be her first WSL goal in our 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

A penetrating run through the Villa defence in our first match of 2023 was matched by an impressive first time finish at the Academy Stadium, with Castellanos linking up to great effect with Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw.

It’s an exciting partnership that is sure to blossom even more next season.


Ouahabi adapted to the rigours of English football with ease, featuring 23 times at full-back in all competitions.

The Spaniard’s quality on the ball was clear to see from the get-go, whether it be intricate free-flowing play in tight spaces or finding a team-mate from distance, as evidenced by an impressive pass completion rate of 85%.

The 30-year-old was at her best in our 2-1 away win against Everton, providing a wonderful long ball to Bunny Shaw who assisted Julie Blakstad for the opening goal.

She was equally influential in defensive situations on Merseyside, showing an impressive turn of pace and determination to steal the ball off the toe of Katja Snoeijs as the forward shaped to shoot late on.

Her experience will prove to be key again next season as City look to obtain silverware in the 2023/24 campaign.


Aleixandri’s footballing intelligence, technical prowess and physical stature have all shone through in an impressive first season with City.

Operating at centre-half, in the heart of midfield and at full-back, she’s been a dependable defensive option for Taylor across 2022/23.

One of her best performances came in the latter of those positions, when she started at left-back in our 2-0 home win over Chelsea, helping City become the first side to stop Emma Hayes’ side from scoring for the first time since February 2022.

Focusing on her WSL campaign, Aleixandri totalled 23 interceptions, 21 tackles, and won 50 duels.

And after an injury cut her season short at the end of April, she’ll be looking to build on an impressive debut campaign when she returns to the fold.