The Danish Pernille Harder was brought to Chelsea for a fee of over £250,000, while key members of the US World Cup winning squad, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Alex Morgan all joined English clubs.
This influx of talent raises the profile of the league substantially but with most of these big names coming only on short term deals, will the WSL become some sort of “holiday league” for players as suggested by former player, pundit and journalist Eniola Aluko, who fears these short term deals will “disrupt” the league?
On the other hand, for FAWSL fans there is no doubt that foreign players have added excitement and flare. When Carly Lloyd joined Manchester City in 2017, I can distinctly remember visiting the Academy stadium with my grassroots team, full of anticipation, in order to watch the American, who at that time was the best player in the world having won two consecutive World player of the year awards. She won the FA Cup in her 3 month stint with the club. Whilst she was only in Manchester for a short time, she gave fans memories to last a lifetime.
Perhaps more importantly than the accused disruption to the league, is the question of whether clubs are hindering younger, home-grown talent, in making these big name signings that raise publicity for their womens team? Chelsea FC have perhaps signed more well-known, foreign players than other teams with the likes of Australian Samantha Kerr and Canadian Jessie Fleming. Chelsea also advanced to the latter stages of the UWCL last season as well as winning the Continental Cup and the WSL.
Alternatively, and possibly more accurately, these players instead raise the standard of the league and raise the bar for younger players coming through. Attracting so many of the worlds top players is not something that happened in years previously and is testimony to the growing game and increasing level of womens football in England. Players like Morgan, Harder and Heath will in turn attract more fans to the WSL and inject excitement and class into the competition.
It can only be a good thing?