The Most Significant WSL Signings of 2020 – Ranked

The Women's Super League has welcomed some truly superstar names this summer, firmly now cementing the league's place as the one to watch anywhere in the world.

The big clubs have strengthened incredibly, but the big signings and shrewd acquisitions haven't just been the domain of the traditional giants.

Here's a look at 12 of the significant transfers this summer - ranked.

12. Anita Asante (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa are playing their first ever top flight season following deserved promotion from the Women’s Championship in 2019/20 and an experienced head like Anita Asante could be crucial in avoiding an immediate return to the second tier.

The 35-year-old has come in from Chelsea, having spent most of the last decade playing at clubs in the United States and Sweden, and has 70 England caps. Even though she hasn’t played either of the opening two games and may not start regularly, dressing room influence could be key.

11. Jess Fishlock (Reading)

Wales international midfielder Jess Fishlock will temporarily add an extra level of quality to an already promising Reading squad during her loan from NWSL club OL Reign – she has previously played for all-conquering French giants Lyon in a similar capacity.

Fishlock has been contracted to Reign since 2013 and actually last played in England for Bristol Academy in 2012. That international experience she can bring, having also played in Australia, Netherlands and Germany, promises to make Reading competitive.

10. Alessia Russo (Man Utd)

Alessia Russo has spent the last three years being developed in the revered UNC Tar Heels programme that previously moulded the likes of Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and even Lucy Bronze. Now that she is ready to turn professional back home, Manchester United won the race to sign her.

The highly-rated 21-year-old was a key player in the Tar Heels setup and was capped by England during the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. Rather than other short-term signings, Russo represents the long-term future for a United side that has ambitions of becoming WSL champions.

9. Chloe Kelly (Man City)

Alongside the aforementioned Russo, Chloe Kelly is perhaps the brightest young international at England’s disposal. She was the WSL’s breakout talent last season with Everton and has now taken an extra step forward by joining Manchester City.

Competition for places is tough at the Etihad Campus, but the 22-year-old has started both of City’s WSL games so far and will learn plenty from more experienced players. As much as an immediate injection of energy, she should thrive in the long-term.

8. Valerie Gauvin (Everton)

It was a big blow for an Everton side that has made significant progress over the last 12 months to lose the aforementioned Kelly during the summer, yet the arrival of France striker Valerie Gauvin as a de facto replacement is a major statement from the Toffees.

Gauvin herself is only 24 and has been prolific at club level in France for Toulouse and Montpellier. She started all but one of France’s games at the 2019 Women’s World Cup on home soil, scoring twice during the competition.

7. Lucy Bronze (Man City)

Lucy Bronze’s return to England from Lyon is a big boost for Manchester City, who have been operating without a specialised right-back – forward Janine Beckie has been repurposed for the role, while even attacking midfielder Georgia Stanway has played there.

Bronze is legitimately among the best players in the world and returns to her former club with the added bonus of experience of winning the Champions League multiple times over. Her drive and quality will make a previous weakness of City’s into a strength.

6. Sam Mewis (Man City)

Sam Mewis to Manchester City was the deal that seemingly kicked off the influx of NWSL stars into the WSL. The tall and elegant midfielder combines the typical American physicality with exceptional technique and has already impressed in City colours.

Mewis was a key part of the USWNT side that won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, starting all but two games in a midfield bursting with world class talent.

5. Christen Press (Man Utd)

Despite a resolute defence and well drilled midfield, Manchester United lacked the creativity and attacking spark to really get close to the established WSL ‘Big Three’ last season. That has now changed with two world class forwards at Casey Stoney’s disposal.

Christen Press was the second of the two to arrive, joining from Utah Royals. The 31-year-old is a two-time World Cup winner and played an active role in the latter success last summer, including the opening goal in the semi-final against England.

4. Rose Lavelle (Man City)

Mewis went first but, if anything, her arrival at Manchester City was trumped by USWNT colleague Rose Lavelle, who won the Bronze Ball at last summer’s World Cup as the tournament’s third best player and was seventh in The Guardian’s 2019 list of the top 100 female player in the word.

Lavelle adds a different kind of quality to the City midfield and should thrive in a WSL environment this season. Fans are still awaiting her debut however, having completed her transfer later and not settled in enough to play before the September international break.

3. Pernille Harder (Chelsea)

As if Chelsea needed another world class forward with Bethany England, Sam Kerr and a supporting cast of Erin Cuthbert, Ji So-yun, Fran Kirby and Guro Reiten. But that didn’t stop the Blues making the world record signing of Pernille Harder from Champions League finalists Wolfsburg.

Aside from the obvious quality a prolific striker will add to a squad brimming with elite players, the move highlighted that the WSL is genuinely an attractive place to be – and that means for Europeans, not solely American-based footballers who wouldn’t otherwise be playing.

2. Tobin Heath (Man Utd)

Mere hours before the aforementioned Press was confirmed a Manchester United player, Tobin Heath was announced by the Red Devils. The 32-year-old adds another level that is hard to find anywhere in world football and is a two-time World Cup winner.

Heath started all but one game at last summer’s tournament and there is an argument to say that she was the United States’ best and most influential player, even though the accolades went to the more publicly known Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.

1. Alex Morgan (Tottenham)

Alex Morgan is probably the single most famous active female player in the world and she has just signed for Tottenham. That is not like an international superstar joining Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal or even an ambitious Manchester United, but Tottenham – a small team by comparison.

Morgan, whose 9.2m Instagram followers outweigh the 8.5m on the club’s main account, will obviously improve Spurs on the pitch, but her somewhat surprise arrival will also bring even more international exposure and intrigue to both the club and the league as a whole.

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Source : 90min