England’s Lucy Bronze nears Chelsea move – sources

England defender Lucy Bronze is closing in on a move to Chelsea despite initial interest from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), sources have told ESPN.

Barcelona confirmed last week that the right-back would depart the club upon the expiry of her contract after two seasons with the Champions League holders.

Sources told ESPN that while Bronze had interest from the NWSL and was expected to make a move across the pond, a late but large offer from Chelsea swayed the 32-year-old to return to England.

While a deal is not yet finalised, Chelsea are the leading candidates to sign the England international in one of the most high-profile moves of the summer as they begin their new era under Sonia Bompastor.

On Monday, the former Lyon head coach’s tenure began, highlighting the first big change for the team in over a decade. Chelsea’s former boss, Emma Hayes, departed the club after 12 years at the end of last season to take up the role of head coach of the United States women’s national team.

Bronze is one of the most decorated players in women’s football and a leading defensive figure of her generation. She was won 123 caps for England and was a key part of the country’s Euro 2022-winning team.

At club level, she has won the Champions League five times — three with former club Lyon and twice with Barça.

Bronze joined Barça from Women’s Super League (WSL) side Manchester City. With Barça, she won seven out of eight possible titles, making 70 appearances for the Spanish champions and scoring five goals.

Seven-time WSL champions Chelsea are looking to strengthen the side with new additions, but they will also need to consider offloading several players and using the loan system to develop their young talent. They currently have 37 players registered, with only 25 squad spots available.

Information from ESPN’s Jeff Kassouf contributed to this report.