Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze has explained that a significant part of wanting to return to the WSL after spending the last three years with all-conquering French giants Lyon was for the benefit of the England national team, so she could be more involved at a crucial time.
Bronze, who won three back-to-back Champions League titles with Lyon after originally joining from Manchester City in 2017, also admitted to some potential ‘FOMO’ had she not returned home this year given the stature of some of the new signings up and down the league.
“Earlier in the year I thought about coming home and if I was coming back to England it was only ever going to be City. I didn’t really entertain any other conversations and the only place I’d have gone was to stay at Lyon, so it was just between the two,” Bronze said.
“It was to help the England squad, especially with changing managers and so many competitions coming up, it feels right to be in England,” she added.
“Being abroad, as much as I was in the England squad, there were days you would miss, turn up late for camp or have to leave early, or not involved as much in a lot of things that are going on. With where I am in my career, it was really important that I came back to England.”
England players will form a major part of the Great Britain squad at the delayed 2020 Olympics in Japan next summer, while the European Championship will be held on home soil in 2022, followed the year after by the next Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The Lionesses will also soon be under the guidance of Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, who has already agreed a contract to replace current boss Phil Neville as of next autumn.
Aside from boosting England hopes internationally, Bronze has also spoken about what it means to be playing for a WSL club ahead of a potentially landmark season, predicting the next few months could see it become the best league in the world.
A large part of that is the number of high profile signings this summer, of which Bronze herself is one. She has been joined at City by former Lyon teammate Alex Greenwood, as well as USWNT midfielders Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis. American forwards Tobin Heath and Christen Press have joined Manchester United, while Chelsea have landed Danish superstar Pernille Harder.
Elsewhere, even clubs like Tottenham, West Ham and Everton have brought in big names from abroad, including French striker Valerie Gauvin at the latter.
“It’s fallen into place for me at the right time, looking at all the signings coming to the WSL. I feel very fortunate to have moved back now and I definitely would have been a bit sad if I had missed out playing this season when there are so many different stars in so many different teams,” Bronze said.
The 28-year-old has suggested this shift was to be expected, given that most of the sides in the WSL now belong to Premier League clubs.
“You look at all the teams now in WSL and, predominantly, they’re Premier League clubs and that Premier League mentality of wanting to get all the big hitters in your team and winning silverware. It’s that same ethos moving into the women’s league, which is brilliant because it means it is growing and getting better,” Bronze went on to say.
“Only time will tell, but I think will be the year when the English league overtakes all other leagues. You’ve got the quality, not just in one or two teams, but in world class quality in most teams.
“There’s going to be competitive games, we’ve already seen that. Everyone was expecting Chelsea to beat Man Utd. But that’s the nature of it, United showed up, gave them a good game and took points off them and I think you’ll get that a lot of weekend.
“So it’s got all those edges to it, great rivalries – City/United, London derbies – and all these angles you don’t see in other leagues, with all those boxes ticked.”