Women’s transfer record history: Kundananji overtakes Ramirez

As the women’s game continues to progress, so too does the world transfer record. And this week saw Zambia star Racheal Kundananji become the most expensive women’s player in the history.

Kundananji, 23, left Spanish side Madrid CFF to sign for nascent National Women’s Soccer League club Bay FC, who are set to make their debut in the North American top tier in the 2024 season.

After scoring 25 league goals in Liga F last season, the striker joined Bay FC in a mammoth transfer worth an initial €735,000 ($787,600) — with another €75,000 ($80,000) in add-ons — a lofty figure that comfortably eclipses the previous world record, which was set just last month when Colombia striker Mayra Ramírez moved from Levante to Chelsea for €450,000 ($500,000).

Kundananji’s move came after a January transfer window that had seen international spending in the women’s game reach an all-time high, according to FIFA, with clubs around the world collectively trading approximately €1.96m ($2.1m) in transfer fees — which roughly equates to a 150% rise from winter 2023.

Yes, there is still a long way to go before we get near the men’s record, set by Neymar‘s €222m ($241m) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. But here is an overview of the evolution of the women’s transfer record from the last few decades, and those players responsible for breaking it.

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Milene Domingues – Fiammamonza to Rayo Vallecano
€235,000, 2002

Also known as “Mika,” the Brazil international became the first women’s player to command a fee above €200,000 when she left Italian club Fiammamonza to sign for Rayo Vallecano in 2002. The midfielder moved to be with her then-husband, Selecao legend Ronaldo Nazario, who also left Italy for Spain in order to join Real Madrid.

Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out due to a Spanish FA rule stating that clubs were prohibited from fielding foreign players in competitive matches. Milene therefore never played a single game for Rayo and instead was given dispensation to fly back to Italy in order to rejoin Fiammamonza.

Nevertheless, she held on to the world transfer record for almost two decades.

Pernille Harder – VfB Wolfsburg to Chelsea
€280,000, 2020

After rising to prominence in Germany with VfB Wolfsburg, the Denmark international became the new holder of the record when she departed for Women’s Super League giants Chelsea after agreeing a three-year contract in September 2020.

The two-time UEFA Women’s Player of the Year subsequently went on to collect three WSL/FA Cup doubles over three consecutive seasons with the Blues, before moving back to Germany with Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023.

Keira Walsh – Manchester City to Barcelona
€400,000, 2022

The England midfielder shattered the world record in the summer of 2022 when she moved from Manchester City to join all-conquering Barcelona, who had previously become the first Spanish women’s club to win the European treble after claiming the league title, Champions League and Copa de la Reina the previous season.

Walsh was also riding high after starting every single game for the Lionesses in their triumphant run to glory at the 2022 European Championships, and duly sealed her €400,000 move (plus another €62,000 in possible add-ons) to Liga F during the final few days of the summer transfer window.

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Mayra Ramírez – Levante to Chelsea
€450,000, 2024

Walsh’s record transfer lasted 18 months as it was surpassed at the start of the 2024 January window when Chelsea went big in order to land Ramirez from Spanish top-tier side Levante.

The 24-year-old had already scored six goals in seven games in Liga F when the Blues set a new benchmark in the transfer world by parting with an initial €450,000 plus a further €50,000 in potential add-ons.

Ramirez also became the most-expensive women’s player in British history (exceeding the €350,000 deal that took Jill Roord from Wolfsburg to Manchester City in 2023.)

Racheal Kundananji – Madrid CFF to Bay FC
€735,000, 2024

After finishing as the second-highest goal scorer in Spain’s top flight last campaign, Kundananji made the move to NSWL and signed a four-year contract with San Francisco-based Bay FC, who are set to make their competition debut when the league commences in mid-March.

The forward scored 33 goals in 43 league games for Madrid CFF, but a base fee of €735,000 (plus a further €75,000 in add-ons) smashed the record by a significant margin.

The talented Zambia international also became the first African player, female or male, to break a world transfer record.