WSL transfer window preview: What do all 12 teams need?

The Women’s Super League (WSL) summer transfer window opens on June 24 and closes on Sept. 13. Already there have been a number of players to announce they will be leaving upon the expiry of their contracts, while we should be expecting some big moves based on recent history.

Transfer records were broken across the women’s game in the 2023-24 season as WSL clubs saw 226 transfers — a higher level of activity than each of the previous three seasons, according to Deloitte.

So who could move? We assess what could happen at each of the 12 WSL clubs this summer.

ARSENAL

Even before the window opened, Arsenal have been moving quickly. Before the season’s final game against Brighton, they announced the departures of goalkeepers Sabrina D’Angelo and Kaylan Marckese, as well as the WSL’s all-time top goal scorer Vivianne Miedema.

The club are set to sign Champions League winner Mariona Caldentey from Barcelona, sources told ESPN, which will help fill the void left by Miedema. Meanwhile midfielder Victoria Pelova ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and CBS reports that a move for Barcelona’s Keira Walsh is being considered, as the Gunners’ deal with Pelova’s long-term absence and prepare for 33-year-old captain Kim Little‘s eventual retirement.

While Arsenal don’t need extensive changes after two successful summers, they may offload players like Giovana Queiroz (who has been on loan at Madrid CFF) or Cloe Lacasse (who has struggled for minutes) to stay within the WSL’s 23-player cap.

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa need to appoint a new manager before recruiting players, as former boss Carla Ward departed at the end of last season. The respect she had from her players may prompt some to depart with her, yet so far only Olivia McLoughlin (Rangers) has gone.

Forward Alisha Lehmann has attracted interest from Juventus, according to journalist Mauro Munno, and goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar might also move on despite only signing last summer, and has been linked with Arsenal. The club seem keen to try and get midfielder Miri Taylor to pen a permanent deal, while Jordan Nobbs and Dan Turner signed new contracts recently. Villa, who finished seventh in WSL, are in a transitional phase and must determine their strategy for next season before they look to introduce new faces.

BRIGHTON & Hove ALBION

As much as struggling Brighton need players, they need an identity after boss Mel Phillips was sacked in February. Now under their fifth manager in two years, the club will be looking to start fresh once again after letting 10 players leave last summer and signing 11.

Veatriki Sarri, Tatiana Pinto (who only signed last summer) and England international Katie Robinson have already announced their departures, while sources have told ESPN that 13-goal striker Elisabeth Terland is also attracting attention from bigger clubs. A striker, winger and a couple of defenders will all be needed to plug gaps and rebuild if Brighton want to avoid facing relegation once again.

CHELSEA

Having made some impressive moves in recent transfer windows, Chelsea have little to do this time. Last summer, they recruited for the future with the likes of Catarina Macário and Hannah Hampton; then in January they addressed injury gaps and spent a then-world record €450,000 to bring in Mayra Ramírez from Levante. With loanees Wieke Kaptein (Twente), Alejandra Bernabe (Real Sociedad) and Brooke Aspin (Bristol City) set to return to the club, as well as established stars Sam Kerr and Mia Fishel due back from injury in a few months, Chelsea’s squad is strong. However, new manager Sonia Bompastor is looking to move past the Emma Hayes era and may seek players to fit her style. With veterans Fran Kirby and Maren Mjelde departing, some experienced additions could be considered.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Entering their debut season in WSL, Palace secured promotion with significant help from the loan system, utilising key players like Ria Percival (Tottenham), Lucy Watson and Lexi Potter (both Chelsea) to win the Championship. Likely to rely on this strategy again, Palace need experienced top-flight players and leaders to stay competitive, and need to learn from Bristol City‘s failed campaign last season.

Given that only two players per club are allowed to join another WSL team on loan, Palace may need to think smart. There are plenty of free agents available, but so far no major links have been made.

EVERTON

Everton faced such significant injury problems last season that manager Brian Sorenson began bringing a notebook to his prematch news conferences to keep track of which players were unavailable that weekend. And for the most part, it was a hefty number of his squad.

Therefore, Everton need to bolster their squad all round this summer. But, given the club’s financial issues, they will need to get the most they can for their money. Stalwart players like goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan are out of contract and, with no word on how talks are progressing over a new deal, Everton may need to think about replacing her. Sorenson has managed to retain defender Elise Stenevik and striker Katja Snoeijs, and could dip into the Scandinavian market for more value.

LEICESTER CITY

Like Villa, Leicester need a manager after the exit of Willie Kirk. Although the club recruited well, with a good mix of experience and young talent in the squad, they didn’t perform as expected and lacks players familiar with the WSL. Leicester will likely add depth while integrating successful academy prospects like Ava Baker or Denny Draper. According to the BBC, Asmita Ale might join permanently from Tottenham Hotspur after a successful loan spell last summer. But given the lack of a manager right now, with Jennifer Foster in interim charge, it would not be a surprise to see several exits.

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What do the WSL’s chasing pack need in the transfer window?

Sophie Lawson looks at the pressing transfer needs of the clubs hoping to catch up to the top of the WSL.

LIVERPOOL

One of last season’s revelations, Liverpool secured a well-deserved fourth-placed finish last term and have coach Matt Beard to thank. Much of the focus and budget went towards opening the men’s old training ground, Melwood, for exclusive use by the women. Now, Beard has an opportunity to reinforce his squad in the window.

Although defender Emma Koivisto made a surprising exit, alongside Shanice van de Sanden and Melissa Lawley, Beard doesn’t need to make extensive changes. Portuguese media outlet A Bola reported a link between Liverpool and Canada youngster Olivia Smith from Sporting CP. It would be a statement signing, but as yet a deal for the 19-year-old is just speculation.

MANCHESTER CITY

Sources told ESPN that City are set to make a major move by signing Miedema as a free agent after her departure from Arsenal. Another source indicated that the club are targeting a defender following former captain Steph Houghton‘s retirement and Esme Morgan‘s move to NWSL side Washington Spirit.

Besides these additions, City do not need to target many players due to their strong squad, having made three signings in January (Laura Blindkilde Brown, Poppy Pritchard and Tara O’Hanlon), before a plethora of contract extensions, including for Lauren Hemp and manager Gareth Taylor, followed. However, with Chloe Kelly‘s future uncertain, City might look for a new winger. Marca reports that Barcelona are heavily interested in signing City’s Spanish defender Laia Aleixandri (if they don’t land Levante’s Maria Mendez), which could also prompt another defensive addition.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Last summer, United saw a surprising 22 players leave (17 permanently, five on loan). This time, fewer departures are expected, but some key names might exit. Sources told ESPN that captain Katie Zelem and goalkeeper Mary Earps are undecided about their futures and both are considering moves away when their contracts expire in the summer. Earps has been on a rollercoaster, with links to Arsenal, Barcelona and other top clubs in the past two transfer windows.

France forward Melvine Malard may return to Lyon after her loan, but the club are exploring options to sign her permanently, while Lucía García and Irene Guerrero have been heavily linked with moves to Mexico. The Athletic reports that Nikita Parris declined the chance to move to NWSL before the FA Cup final, but sources told ESPN that she could still move there this summer.

United will regain several injured players, but many gaps remain. There is pressure on manager Marc Skinner to do some vital business after extending his own deal with United for another year.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Spurs are aiming to sign Grace Clinton permanently once her loan move from Man United expires this summer, but sources have told ESPN she’s likely to return to Manchester until her contract expires in 2025.

Former Chelsea forward Kirby is a potential target, according to ESPN sources, however there is expected to be a host of interest from other clubs in the 30-year-old. Tottenham also appear eager to secure defender Amanda Nildén on a permanent deal from Juventus as manager Robert Vilahamn, who made a splash in his first season, will need depth and midfield options to ensure the side’s ability to see out games.

WEST HAM UNITED

According to the BBC, defender Hawa Cissoko could be in line for a move to Roma. Given the club’s lack of experience, it’s the last thing they need, but boss Rehanne Skinner is hopeful of signing 31-year-old Shelina Zadorsky permanently after her loan from Spurs. The Hammers will also need to sign a goalkeeper if Mackenzie Arnold does not renew her contract. Skinner inherited a young squad but so far has not added the experience needed to make an impact, so that will be a priority this window.