We are a month and a week into the FA WSL transfer window and, with a month-and-a-half to go before it closes, we have a clear idea where the teams are going this summer.
It is quite clear that the rich are getting richer while recruiting big to try and win the title and make sure of Champions League qualification with three places now available.
Some of the chasing pack are also trying to improve in order to fight for third place.
Mid-table and bottom of the league teams from last season, as well as promoted Aston Villa, are trying to make intelligent business with smaller budgets than the Big Three.
Let’s start with the biggest question mark: Birmingham.
So far, they have lost eight players, one of them on loan, including three key ones in Lucy Staniforth, Kerys Harrop, who has been at the club for 20 years, and Rachel Williams. They have signed no one so far. They barely have eleven players signed right now and even some excellent Academy prospects have left the club.
With the parent club situation in the Championship now clarified, you would hope that they will start signing players. There are about 30 players who are free agents after being released by other FA WSL teams, so boosting up their squad with free transfers should not be a problem.
Promoted team Aston Villa have let eight players go.
There is always a question mark for semi-professional players with a stable job about moving to full time professional player status. Especially when money from women pro players is less than what they make in their other job.
Villa have extended 13 players’ contract and signed four players so far.
One of them is well known to Arsenal fans: Anita Asante, who is now a very experienced and fully decorated player who will bring a lot to that team. They also signed the Lyon back-up goalkeeper, Lisa Weiss who was frustrated by her lack of playing time. Villa also picked up the talented Scottish playmaker Chloe Arthur from their neighbour. They have also added the Portuguese forward, Diana Silva.
Bristol are one of the teams with a smaller budget than most. They need to make shrewd signings. They lost seven players, including two experienced ones like Lauren Dykes and Frankie Brown, as well as two promising youngsters in Katie Robinson and Poppy Pattinson. They have extended six players’ contract. Confirmed Megan Wynne who had been on loan from Spurs for the second half of the 2019/20 season.
New signings include Matildas’ Ella Mastrantonio, Aimee Palmer a high potential midfielder coming back the club after two years at Manchester United and a quality left-back in Jemma Purfield who has left relegated side Liverpool. A decent recruitment list so far for a side that will look to get a mid-table position.
Brighton have let seven players go with some of them not taking up the offer of a extension as many are on one year contracts only. They have duly extended 14 players for a season or more and added two England youth players in Katie Startup and Katie Robinson. They have also added proven international quality with Finland Nora Heroum, Netherlands Inessa Kaagman as well as a one year loan for Korean forward Lee Geum-min from City.
They have now stabilised their place in the FA WSL following promotion a couple of seasons ago and can look up to a mid-table place and avoid the relegation battle.
West Ham have changed about a third of their squad with eight players departing. They have signed England u-21 left-back Mayumi Pacheco and gone on the international trail. Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, French defender Hawa Cissoko, Czech playmaker Katerina Svitkova and Swedish forward Nor Mustafa have been signed. You would expect them to sign a couple more and try to get to the top side of the table this season.
Everton are clearly ambitious and looking for a top 4 place. Willie Kirk has seen six players go including star forward Chloe Kelly to City. He brought in three defenders in Poppy Pattinson, the experienced Norwegian Ingrid Moe Wold and Danish centre-back Rikke Sevecke. In attack they added another Danish player Nicoline Sorensen and French striker Valerie Gauvain should sign this week. I can certainly see them finish above United, Reading and Spurs if they carry on improving as a team.
Tottenham will look to consolidate their place in the League folliwing a very succesful first professional season. They lost five players and are looking to bring quality to their squad having extended six players contract. They added two experienced players from Birmingham in Kerys Harrop and Rachel Williams, with international players likely to be signed. Like Everton they will be looking at the top of the table and maybe fourth place depending on the upcoming signings.
Reading seem to have budget not as big as before with a dozen players having left the club. They have extended three contracts inclduing captain Natasha Harding. They have made clever signing with the ex Arsenal pair of Danielle Carter and Emma Mitchell, Deanna Cooper from Chelsea is a fantastic athlete and read the game so well at centre-back. Two more international signings are expected from Korea Republic and New-Zealand, but that might be it for the Summer window.
Manchester United have gone for stability with only four players leaving so far including two goalkeepers. They have extended six players’ contracts and have added three players so far. The England squad player Lucy Staniforth and two young foreign players in Ona Battle from Spain and Ivana Fuso from Germany.
Their defensive structure and culture was their man asset last season. With Staniforth adding extra midfield quality, all they need is a goalscoring forward to push higher than fourth place. Unless of course they can grind 1-0 and 2-0 wins the whole season.
Arsenal have let go five and taking four in as per other post covering our transfers. Two youngsters have also departed Ruby Grant and Silvana Flores. There might be one more signing as NWSL players are making thier way to Europe with the challenge cup now finished. We currently have 17 outfield players and three goalkeepers so another player would certainly help in the rotation when injury will hit us as they do in every season.
Manchester City are having a very succesful transfer window. They got Chloe Kelly from Everton as well Esme Morgan back from her loan there as well. They only lost three players and are expected to sign Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood and Sam Mewis. Rose Lavelle would be the icing on the cake to add to their that looked a bit weak last season as seen with the lack of rotation made by Nick Cushing.
if they manage to make all the new signings work and gel quickly, they will be there for the title and maybe even the Champions League.
Chelsea were unbeaten last season in all three domestic competitions. They really need to add quality in certain areas and that is what they have been doing so far. Four players with limited playing time have left and replaced. German playmaker Melanie Leupolz, up and coming England youth winger Niamh Charles and Canadian prodigy Jessie Fleming have been added to Emma Hayes’ squad and couple more players are likely to arrive soon.
Clearly, the main transfer business has been done for most sides except for Birmingham as teams are back in training.
We should see more transfers before 10 September, when the window closes, especially coming from the USA.
Teams that will be able to add top class quality will certainly improve the league and the entertainment factor as well as their expected league position.
It should be a fascinating 2020/21 season with six trophies up for grabs. Two held over from last season (FA Cup and UEFA WCL) and the usual four (League, WCL, FA Cup and League Cup).