Leicester City

Leicester confirm five departures ahead of 2022/23 WSL season

Ali Rampling
Esme de Graaf is one of five confirmed Leicester departures
Esme de Graaf is one of five confirmed Leicester departures / Morgan Harlow/GettyImages
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Leicester have confirmed that five players will depart the club following the expiration of their contracts at the end of the 2021/22 WSL season.

The Foxes narrowly avoided the drop during their maiden season in the top flight, finishing two points clear of bottom side Birmingham.

They will head into their second term in the WSL without Esmee de Graaf, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Sophie Harris, Abbi Grant and Luana Zajmi, with the quintet all leaving the club following the conclusion of their contracts this summer.

De Graaf joined Leicester from West Ham in 2020, helping the Foxes storm to promotion during her first year at the club. The defender was a first team regular during the 2021/22 WSL campaign, featuring in 21 of Leicester's 22 league fixtures. She departs the club to return to her native Netherlands.

"After four years in England, I’ve decided it’s the right time for me to go back home," De Graaf wrote on Twitter. "I am forever grateful for the people I’ve met along the way and the memories I’ve made. Up the Foxes."

Bailey-Gayle is a product of the Arsenal youth system, and joined Leicester in 2019. The forward featured 12 times during the 2021/22 WSL season.

Goalkeeper Harris appeared just once in the league for Leicester last term. She signed for the Foxes in January 2021, but found herself behind Demi Lambourne and Kirstie Levell in the pecking order.

Grant and Zajmi were both used sparingly by Leicester during the 2021/22 campaign, registering just one WSL appearance between them, before spending the second half of the season on loan at Glasgow City and Blackburn Rovers respectively.

A statement on Leicester's official club website reads: "The Football Club wishes all five players the very best for their future careers and thanks them for their contributions to what has been a historic period for LCFC Women and the development of the game in Leicestershire."

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