The 2020 Women’s Super League summer transfer window was a sight to behold, as a selection of the biggest names in world football headed to the UK shores in a series of successful moves.
The WSL 2020/21 season is almost halfway there, making it a great time to dissect the progress of each of the newcomers.
Let’s take a look at the best rookies in the WSL this season.
Birmingham was in a bit of repair in August; Carla Ward was named just 24 days before the start of the season, they only had eight senior players on their books and won just two games in the previous campaign.
Bringing in Rachel Corsie’s experience was huge for the Blues’ rapid transformation. The Scottish centurion added much needed steel to Birmingham’s backline, helping his side keep three clean sheets in four games in October and November – and put themselves on the scoresheet themselves against Bristol City – so that Ward’s team was withdrawing from the drop zone.
In a WSL transfer window like no other, it was brave losers Tottenham who royally stole everyone’s thunder with the addition of world superstar Alex Morgan as part of a short-term loan from Orlando Pride.
However, there has been a more low-key loan arrival from Orlando Pride in the form of Alanna Kennedy who has been the signing of Spurs. The Australia international added a world-class quality injection into the Spurs squad, starting eight of their nine WSLs and expertly protecting the north Londoners’ four full-backs with his tenacity, aerial ability and playing the game. .
Manchester United is reaping the benefits of their balanced approach in the transfer window, bringing world-class experience and exciting youth in equal measure.
A player who falls into the latter camp is Ona Batlle. Despite being just 21, the right-back has already established herself as a first-team regular, starting seven of the Red Devils’ first 10 games in WSL and putting in a particularly eye-catching performance in Win 1 -0 from United over Arsenal. Adventurous and tenacious defensively, Batlle is the perfect back of modern times.
It was difficult to decide which headline arrival would generate the most excitement during the 2020 summer window – but Chelsea were paying record fees to secure the services of one of the world’s best players, Pernille Harder, was undoubtedly growing in the first place.
In an already lively Blues attack line, the Danish international added another frightening dimension. Harder plays with such elegance, her bonding game and intelligence are sublime and at times she looks unstoppable. His goal against Everton in November was simply magnificent.
Everton have been very productive in the transfer market for the second consecutive window. Title addition Valeria Gauvin had taken over before suffering a muscle injury in November – leaving Scotland international Claire Emslie to steal the show when signing their star.
The forward contributed with two goals and two assists, and her energy and vision made her a valuable asset in the Toffees’ fourth front. Emslie has since made his loan transfer from Orlando Pride a permanent one, signing an 18-month contract with Everton.
West Ham had a rough start to the season, recording just two wins in nine opening games. England international Rachel Daly signed from Houston Dash, just after leading her team to NWSL Challenge Cup glory this summer, and played a pivotal role in the two precious wins this season.
The versatile full-back was instrumental in West Ham’s debut and groomed their winner in their 2-1 win over Birmingham in November, and was on the scoresheet as the Hammers beat the winners 4- 0 against Bristol City in December. . With three goals already this season, Daly has been responsible for 23% of West Ham’s goals this season.
Reading made a real declaration of intent with the capture of Jess Fishlock, the Welsh talisman returning to the WSL for the first time in eight years.
The midfielder has appeared in each of Reading’s 10 WSL outings this season, scoring a brace in the Royals’ 3-1 win over Brighton in December. She also contributed with two more assists this campaign, and her performances for Kelly Chambers’ team led to her being nominated for the WSL Player of the Month award for December.
Manchester City clinched the star of the 2019/20 WSL season as Chloe Kelly opted not to re-sign with Everton but to move on to Citizens.
The England international has stepped up to one of the WSL ‘big three’ in his stride, frequently watching City’s most exciting and powerful attacking threat. Kelly has four league goals this season – almost halfway to equaling last season’s nine – and his incredible distance effort against Tottenham in October is a contender’s goal of the season.
Manchester United are enjoying a dream second season in the WSL, leading the pack and registering their first ever league victory against a member of the elite ‘big three’. Tobin Heath, two-time World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, was a true world-class addition.
The USA international instantly came to life in England, terrorizing the defenses with his creativity and quick feet. Heath has four goals and two assists in the league so far – including love at first sight to spark a comeback in the Manchester derby draw in November – and was named WSL Player of the Month for November.
Much like his compatriot Heath in the red half of Manchester, Sam Mewis has adapted effortlessly to life in the WSL in the blue half.
The winner of the 2019 World Cup alone controls the matches. It was absolutely unplayable.
Her athleticism and tenacity mean she’s more than a match for the physicality of the division, but her technical abilities, intelligence, and passing range allow Mewis to dictate the pace of play from the middle of the park. Watching his rascal forward is absolutely frightening. No WSL signing has had a deeper impact than Mewis.