Chelsea Ladies have taken a leaf out of the books of their male counterparts and splashed the cash on signing England striker and Women’s World Cup star Fran Kirby for what has been mooted as a British record transfer fee in many quarters.
The striker joins from Reading, where she had been since 8 , thereby ending a 14 year association with the club. The 22-year-old was one of the biggest stars of the Women’s World Cup held last month, where she guided England to a respectable third place finish. She was also the scorer of England’s first goal at the tournament, notching in the 2-1 win over Mexico.
Chelsea Ladies, who are under the stewardship of Emma Hayes, sit atop the Women’s Super League 1, and this addition will further bolster their claim to become champions.
The striker, who was the top goalscorer in WSL 2 last season with 24 league goals, has reportedly signed a three and a half year deal at the club. Rivals Manchester City and Arsenal had also made bids for Kirby, but it is Chelsea who have acted decisively and secured her services.
Speaking to the club’s website , Kirby was quoted as saying:
“Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world and now is a really good time for me to step up in my career.”
“It’s pretty incredible for me. The last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind and moving here is the cherry on top.”
She further added that:
“It goes without saying that I’m very excited about moving to Chelsea, and I can’t wait to get started at a new club. But at the same time I am leaving behind so many memories at Reading.”
Remembering her time at her previous club she claimed:
“When I joined the club aged eight, I could never have imagined where it would take me. To have success with all my team-mates at Reading, played for England in the World Cup and now make this move, it’s all a little bit surreal to be honest.”
Dubbed ‘mini-Messi’ by England coach Mark Sampson during the Women’s World Cup, Kirby was under contract at Reading until 2018 and that is what prompted Chelsea to pay an allegedly huge yet still undisclosed transfer fee for her services.X
She scored 11 goals in five league appearances for Reading this year and has netted three times in 13 appearances for England.
A statement on Reading’s website said: “For a player to have come through our youth system and move for a British record is testament to Fran, and all of the players and coaches she has worked with here.”
“Our team are currently top of WSL2, having ended last season very strongly in our first year at that level, and Fran’s record move is potentially another important step in the club’s progression.”
Reading restart their league campaign at home to Durham Women on Saturday, while Chelsea host Bristol Academy in the top flight on Sunday.