Plenty of new faces will grace the WSL upon its return for the 2023/24 season on Sunday 1 October, while other established names have found new clubs over the summer.
Team up and down England’s top flight used the summer transfer window to bring in both new ane existing talent, while saying goodbye to others to freshen up their respective squads.
Manchester United had 24 outgoings in total, including five loans, while Leicester ditched 14 players and Aston Villa said goodbye to 13. On the other end, Manchester City had a quiet window, only bringing in one player, while Chelsea bolstered their already packed squad with lots of young talent and Brighton, under new manager Melissa Phillips, swapped ten outgoing for 11 brand new signings.
But during the transfer window, the WSL smashed the spending record, with more than £3m forked out. Here, 90min breaks down the most exciting new additions to the WSL ahead of the new season.
Hammarby to Arsenal
Topping the charts as one of the most expensive transfers, rumoured around £250,000, Kyra Cooney-Cross’ move from Hammarby to Arsenal is one of the most beneficial for all parties.
Swedish side Hammarby wanted a fee for the young Australian, but with her contract up in December (teams in Sweden operate on a calendar yeat schedule), interest from Manchester United and Chelsea dipped as they preffered to wait to try and get the 21-year-old midfielder for free.
However, Arsenal, needing reinforcements in their struggling midfield, swooped on deadline day to steal the signature of the former Melbourne Victory player.
Cooney-Cross, who wanted a move to the WSL, said: “Arsenal just felt right as soon as I heard about the interest. “The deal went down to the wire, but the Gunners were able to get the job done, with the Aussie set to make strides in a new league after showing her class at the 2023 World Cup at home.
Head Coach Jonas Eidevall said: “Her passing ability and explosiveness allow her to affect games in a way you rarely see from such a young player, so we firmly believe she will be an excellent addition to our midfield, now and in the future.”
Barcelona to Manchester United
“Geyse is a proven winner on the biggest stages. She has won both domestic and international honours and her winning mentality is an important addition to our team, ahead of a busy campaign across several important competitions,” Manchester United boss Marc Skinner said about the Brazilian forward.
Geyse signed from Barcelona on a fee rumoured between £250,000 and £300,000 as the Red Devils needed to bolster their attack after losing Alessia Russo at the end of her contract. With 24 outgoings, many of which were academy graduates, Geyse makes up one of nine new faces, four of which are all top attacking players, meaning the competition within the squad is at an all-time high.
The 25-year-old brings a lot of class, pace and skill on the ball to Manchester United as they look to compete in Europe for the very first time, something Geyse is no stranger to after winning the Champions League last season with Barcelona.
Wolfsburg to Manchester City
Another Champions League finalist, Jill Roord ended up being Manchester City’s only signing of the summer, losing just three players in turn. Retaining the majority of his squad, Roord’s experience in the WSL as a former Arsenal player, will add depth and pace as they look to get back into Europe.
A a proven goalscorer for club and country, the Dutch attacking midfielder is vastly experienced in finding the net and helping teams get over the line in crunch situations.
“I really like the way that they play, and I feel that it suits me perfectly,” the 26-year-old said. “There’s a lot of quality in the team, and it’s a young side with plenty of potential, which is very important to me.”
Wolfsburg to Manchester City
Another Champions League talent, Pauline Bremer is switching the green of Wolfsburg for the Brighton seaside, joining Melissa Phillips in her quest for a top half WSL finish.
Bremer scored the winning goal against Arsenal that sealed Wolfsburg’s Champions League final spot in front of a sold-out Emirates and almost netted another winning against Barcelona in the final itself. However, Bremer’s vast experience and talent precede her and attracted the Seagulls.
“She brings a wealth of experience in the women’s game across multiple leagues and has the winning mentality that we are trying to implement within our squad. We are certain that she will add value both on and off the pitch in the new season ahead and will strengthen our attacking line,” Phillips said,
Having previously played for Lyon, Turbine Potsdam and Manchester City, Bremer’s high class and experience will add depth to Brighton after bidding farewell to ten players and bringing in 11 in total, mostly young, up and coming talent.
Manchester United to Arsenal
In one of the most controversial transfers, Arsenal attempted to sign Lionesses striker Alessia Russo twice, offering two world record bids for the 24-year-old back in January. Failing to then agree a new contract, Manchester United saw her goal as a free agent in summer instead.
“I want to win trophies – as does everyone in this club. I can’t wait to get stuck in and grow as a player – it’s a new challenge and a new environment,” Russo said, speaking upon her arrival.
She had shone at Euro 2022, scoring the unforgettable backheel goal against Sweden in the semi-final. Her link-ups on the England stage with new Gunners teammates Beth Mead and Leah Williamson were ultimately one of the driving points that brought the Kent-born player to Arsenal.
Her return to United’s home ground falls on the second weekend of the season, where Russo can expected a hostile reception following a negative outcry from Manchester United fans on twitter.
FC Twente to Aston Villa
With the WSL increasingly more attractive to young European talent, Daphne van Domselaar arrived at Carla Ward’s Aston Villa at 23 as the club’s long-term plan continues.
Last summer, Ward recruited the likes of Rachel Daly and Kenza Dali, using this window to add more incomings to develop her squad depth as well as signing loanees on full-term contracts.
Van Domselaar, who enjoyed a breakout Euro 2022 with Netherlands, is already one of the world’s top goalkeeping talents and is a nominee for this year’s prestigious Ballon d’Or Feminin.
Manchester United to Bristol City
Carrie Jones an exciting young Welsh prospect who spent last season with Manchester United on loan at Leicester City. The 20-year-old has already had great success representing her home nation and now moving to Bristol City to continue her WSL journey.
Head Coach Lauren Smith raved about Carrie Jones and becomes the fourth Welsh talent in her squad. Jones presents an exceptional talent in midfield both off the ball and on it, creating space and driving forward and played an integral role in saving Willie Kirk’s Leicester from relegation last season.
Tigres to Chelsea
One of the most exciting young talents to head to the WSL is American forward Mia Fishel, who signed for Chelsea from Mexican side Tigres where she netted an impressive 38 goals in 48 games.
“Mia is an exceptional finisher whose box presence and movement make her elite. She can also create something from nothing, and her prime years are to come,” Emma Hayes said on the starlet.
Having a plethora of junior international experience, Fishel brings an exciting style of play and ability to break through defenders to the WSL. With the domestic league growing in presence, she is one of the most exciting youngsters to join the Blues, falling into Hayes’ long term plans.
Lyon to Manchester United
Having already won four Champions Leagues and three French titles, at 22, Melvine Malard is an exceptional signing for Manchester United in their bid to make it as far as possible in their inaugural Champions League campaign.
Marc Skinner said. “Melvine’s honours speak for themselves, and we are delighted to welcome a proven winner at domestic and European level to our Manchester United family.”
Having lost a considerable amount of players, Manchester United spent well in the window to recruit top talent, including Malard, who will hopefully adapt well to the challenges of a new league..
Manchester United to Tottenham
As one forward joined United on deadline day, another departed in the form of Martha Thomas. The Scotland international was a regular off the bench last season and featured in 20 out of 22 WSL games, but rarely started. Her new club should offer more chances to do so.
In moving to Tottenham, new coach Robert Vilahamn needed a replacement for Bethany England, who is sidelined for a period of time following a hip surgery.
Thomas will likely bring a lot of fight and will want to prove herself to the new club, especially to help prevent them from slipping into a relegation battle that they only narrowly escaped last season.
PSG to Arsenal
In an attempt to bolster a struggling defence, Amanda Ilestedt was recruited to Jonas Eidevall’s Arseanl to fill a gap left when Rafaelle joined Orlando Pride in the summer. Ilestedt, who previously played under the Swedish boss at Rosengard, was the first of two defenders to join Arsenal this year, with World Cup winner Laia Codina later signing for the club.
“She brings extensive international experience, and I believe she has a great mix of presence and technical ability, making her an ideal fit for our squad,” Eidevall said, raving about the 30-year-old.
Ilestedt played in both of Arsenal’s Champions League qualifiers, ultimately losing the second clash on penalties, but the Swedish star showed her class throughout both games. She also comes to the WSL off the back of an exceptional World Cup, where she was outstanding at both ends of the pitch.
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