The West Ham women have seen transfer ups and downs in just a matter of days, with news that Australian international midfielder Emily van Egmond has made her loan a permanent deal contrasted with disappointment at the English star Rachel Daly leaving the club.
The simultaneous loss of England Under-19 talent Ruby Grant, a product of Arsenal’s youth system, is also a blow to the Hammers heading into the second half of the season.
The three signed short-term deals ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, in which West Ham expected to kick off after regressing last season in their second year as a WSL club.
Daly returned home on a loan deal from NWSL club Houston Dash, having spent the previous eight years in North America and becoming one of the club’s top players in the United States.
Van Egmond arrived on similar terms from Orlando Pride, which has seen an exodus of players looking for playing time, including Alex Morgan at Tottenham, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Grant joined the Hammers on a short-term contract after choosing to postpone his college football stint in the United States with the legendary North Carolina Tar Heels.
Grant was never expected to stay long term because of the place that awaited her at UNC, where many of the world’s greatest female soccer players have been developed. But she still made eight WSL appearances and will still leave a void in the squad.
Daly and Van Egmond are West Ham’s top scorers for the season with five goals each in all competitions and three each in the WSL. The 10 between them are almost half of the 22 goals the struggling Hammers have scored as a team all season.
Knowing that Van Egmond is staying has been a huge boost at a time when West Ham have spent much of the season looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone. His permanent contract also coincided with the appointment of new manager Olli Harder over the Christmas break and, more broadly, that means the club hope to be a new chapter.
But the news of Daly’s departure in just three days, while not unexpected given the nature of his initial deal, is bad news. The 29-year-old is an internationally renowned top player who has brought a great amount of quality and experience to the Hammers team. Without her, it will now be difficult for the team not to suffer their worst result since becoming a WSL club.
She will at least continue to train with the club until she leaves for Houston for the 2021 NWSL preseason in February, but has already played her last game in burgundy and blue.
Daly scored in West Ham’s last league win, against Bristol City, as did Van Egmond, leaving a bit of a breather between them and the bottom of the table.
As it stands after a series of postponements in what should have been the first matchweek of 2021, West Ham is 10th in the WSL. Only newly promoted Aston Villa, which unveiled a top international signing this week to Japanese striker Mana Iwabuchi, and Bristol are below them.
The Hammers were seventh in their first promotion and eighth last season. They are not in absolutely immediate danger of relegation as Bristol is effectively offsetting the numbers at this point. But it’s pretty tight that an unexpected Robins win here or there, as happened this time last year to keep them at the expense of Liverpool, still makes them a threat.
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